Denton Looks to Improve Safety for Pedestrians at Rail Crossing

Pedestrian barriers will soon be added to sidewalks at a busy railroad crossing in Denton. City leaders say the move will make the crossing at East Hickory Street safer.

Freight trains roar through the middle of downtown Denton as many as two dozen times a day. The busy tracks are close to the city's downtown transit center. People headed there, and to other destinations on both sides of the tracks, must wait for those freight trains before crossing.

Rachel Burnett lives nearby. She said the crossing can be confusing.

"I definitely see there's hesitations there sometimes because there's two different tracks," said Burnett. "There's only barriers on the one track, so I think that gets confusing for people sometimes."

The pedestrian gates were prompted by the death of a woman who was struck by a train last winter. Flowers still mark the spot where it happened. City council member Deb Armintor pushed for the safety gates after the incident. According to a city staff report, four gates will be erected. The city is currently working with a vendor to obtain the necessary components of the gates, which should be in place by summer.

"I think that would be great," said Burnett. "I think it would be really helpful."

Others wonder how the gates would stop pedestrians who choose to walk around them. Many people cross the railroad tracks in downtown Denton in areas other than streets or sidewalks.

"I find the gates they have now are sufficient," said Ryan Plauche, who works in a building near the tracks. "I don't think it will hurt, but I don't know how much it's going to help."

When trains roll through Denton, they're hard not to notice – with loud horns, flashing lights and bell-like ringing signals at crossings. But after another train-related fatality, an added measure of safety is coming.

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