Cars colliding with trains are a rising concern in Chippewa Co. - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Cars colliding with trains are a rising concern in Chippewa County


Eau Claire (WQOW) - Two collisions on the tracks in about a week; luckily, no one was seriously hurt in either case in Chippewa County. Law enforcement is hoping drivers are getting the message that rail traffic has increased. We spoke with the Chippewa County Highway Department to find out more.

"Train traffic has certainly increased in Chippewa County, some for the good, some for the bad," said Bruce Stelzner.

A car has been hit by a train twice in the past eight days in Chippewa County.

"As we've experienced the increased rail traffic, we know that there's a frequency that's going to be increased in terms of cars and trains, and trucks and trains. We certainly want to provide as much notification to motorists over those issues and so does the rail," said Stelzner.

Rail traffic is up because of the booming frac sand industry. The county highway department has been talking about the potential impact on safety for some time.

"Over the course of the last year, we've been working on looking at those rail crossings, looking at the signing. How reflective they are, and did it provide enough notice, and is there enough notice to the public about these crossings," Stelzner said.

And so far?

"We did find that our signs are pretty compliant with state and federal laws. And the ones that weren't, that we thought needed to be refreshed, we had those refreshed," said Stelzner.

While it continues to work with local governments on certain intersections, the highway department says there's only so much it can do.

"Motorists have to take on some responsibility too. Motorists have to recognize that in our county and elsewhere, rail traffic has increased. And there are more opportunities for conflicts between vehicles and trains," Stelzner said.

The two collisions recently in Chippewa County happened less than 5 miles apart.

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