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Safety "Derailed" on Some Oregon Rail Crossings?

December 29, 2006

Portland, OR - Oregon's current laws governing railroad crossings on private land may no longer apply. A recent Supreme Court ruling allows railroad companies to ignore such rules, which has state and national safety experts calling for the Federal Railroad Administration to take action. Attorney Robert Pottroff represented two Oregon families after an accident at a private rail crossing in 2003. He says the ruling means a large number of crossings in Oregon that would otherwise require warning lights and gates, will go without.

"Virtually all accidents result of not having a safe place to cross the tracks."

Pottroff explains the men were returning from a fishing trip and didn't see the train. One was killed and the other severely injured.

"We have a duty to yield to trains. On the other hand, the railroad industry has a duty to make sure we have a safe place to cross their tracks."

Railroad representatives say they require the crossings to be clearly marked, but the American Association for Justice says that's not enough for many crossings. They're asking the Federal Railroad Administration to require additional safety measures depending on variables like visibility.

Dondrea Warner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - OR