We see trains passing by every day. It's part of life in the Midwest--but we don't always think about the damage they can cause.
"On June 24th, my husband was killed at this crossing. He was headed to the farm to take the tractor back, he'd been hauling bails, and he passed our house between 7 and 7:30 pm," said Renee Hansen."That was the last time Renee would see her husband Robert.
US Highway 77 in Nebraska runs along a large portion of farmland. It also runs parallel with BNSF Railway. The problem is some of these dirt roads in the area are barely big enough for a single car to fit on, let alone a tractor trailer. More recently, some tragedies have occurred.
On Monday the same type of incident occurred just a few miles before the crossing that took Robert Hansen's life.
The driver of a semi truck couldn't see the train and could stop fast enough--a story all too familiar for Renee Hansen.19-years earlier, her stepson Donny and his son Austin were killed by a train collision at the exact same crossing that took her husband's life.Renee said that even though the federal government claims to not have the funding, something needs to be done.
"They say it costs too much money to put lights and crossing arms at every intersection. But they could at least put a stop-sign-but they don't even do that. It costs too much money they say, but to me my husband's life was worth more than that," said Hansen."Late in the afternoon, we spoke with a representative for the Nebraska Department of Roads, to learn how folks can help get the funding needed to fix these dangerous crossings.
"When we receive a call from the county or railroad even we will go and visit the site and crossing. And we then do what is called a diagnostic inspection," said Public Transportation Engineer Abe Anshasi of the Nebraska Department of Roads.
During these inspections, the state sends representatives to the site in question to measure the traffic and trains that pass each day to determine the potential risk.Anshasi said the best way to obtain one of these inspections is to file a formal complaint in your specific county.