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Kent Police plan railroad crossing patrols to catch lawbreakers

Vehicles head across the railroad tracks along Willis Street in Kent. Kent Police plan emphasis patrols to make sure drivers and pedestrians are following rail crossing laws. - CHARLES CORTES, Kent Reporter
Vehicles head across the railroad tracks along Willis Street in Kent. Kent Police plan emphasis patrols to make sure drivers and pedestrians are following rail crossing laws.
— image credit: CHARLES CORTES, Kent Reporter

Kent Police are once again conducting railroad crossing emphasis patrols downtown in an effort to raise awareness about safely crossing tracks.

Kent is working with the Union Pacific Railroad Police, Washington State Patrol and King County Transit Police to conduct railroad crossing emphasis patrols, according to an Oct. 3 Kent Police media release.

Officers in marked vehicles, on motorcycles and bicycles will contact motorists and pedestrians not complying with active rail crossing signals. Results from a recent emphasis included 26 traffic infractions, many of which were crosswalk violations. In addition, there were two arrests for driving under the influence and two misdemeanor arrests for marijuana possession.

Emphasis patrols are designed to bring pedestrian and driver awareness to laws concerning movement across railroad crossings. Downtown Kent has seen a resurgence of foot and vehicle traffic in the downtown corridor. Local attractions such as Kent Station and Green River Community College draw may visitors into the area.

Local residents also make use of Sounder Commuter Rail service and transit bus service originating from the Kent Transit Center.

“Rail crossings are dangerous locations," said Kent traffic unit officer Mike Schanbacher. "If hit by a train, the train usually wins."

Factors such as weight, size and speed prevent a train from stopping quickly. A 100-car freight train traveling at 55 mph will need more than a mile to stop once the train is set into emergency braking.

Kent crossings have multiple tracks, making it even more important to obey rail crossing signals. Grade crossings in Kent are used by both freight or passenger trains 24 hours a day, seven days a week and trains can move in either direction of travel at any time.

As a reminder, once the warning lights start flashing, vehicles and pedestrians are required to stop at the marked stop lines and clear the tracks. Movement across the tracks after the warning signals are activated is prohibited. Stopping on the tracks or between the stop lines at any point, even without the warnings activated, also is prohibited.

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