Government's slow speed doomed dance instructor?

Government officials knew for years knew of the dangers of the highway/railroad intersections in University Park where a young dance instructor was killed. Just eight days before the death of Katie Lunn, 26, village officials once again delayed implementation of a traffic signal plan there that could have prevented her death.

To top it off, Village President Al McCowan and Village Manger David Sevier couldn't even agree on whether the necessary $12 million for the long-planned and often delayed project had been approved.
Another example of government efficiency. 
Read the stunning details in the Tribune
My friend, Bob Meyer, easily saw the problem, in an unpublished letter to a Tribune reporter:

Regarding your article about the death of Katie Lunn, this was a totally preventable death, not caused by a failure of the gates to come down, but by the totally stupid and possibly criminal design of that intersection. There should have been traffic lights, keyed to the impending arrival of a train, with signs preventing a right or left turn across the tracks.


A perfect example of how this intersection should have been protected is the intersection of Chestnut Avenue and Lehigh Road in Glenview.

Let's look at each piece:
1.  On Chestnut, east of the tracks is a sign saying "Do Not stop on Tracks".

2. The tracks are located about 25 feet east of the intersection. At the intersection are traffic signals.

3.  For both north and southbound lanes on Lehigh there are very large, well-lit signs prohibiting either a right or left turn when a train is approaching, being activated when a train is about a mile away.

4. On northbound Lehigh, there is a right turn lane so that cars waiting to turn won't block those wanting to go straight.

Usually a number of people have to be killed before the state or county will act and put up a light.  I'm guessing we probably need three or four more volunteers willing to die before anything will happen.

Reading today's story only infuriates me more.  Did you know that Federal guidelines call for gates to go down only 20 seconds before the train arrives? At 80 mph, a train is traveling at 117 feet per second.  How long do you think it takes a train to stop at that speed even if the engineer saw someone on the tracks a 1/2 mile away?

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  • Ironic, but there is also an ongoing complaint that the railroad is blocking traffic for too long.

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