Deadly Oklahoma Rail Crossing Flagged for Improvements in 2011

August 12, 2016

Records indicate that the railroad crossing where a woman and her three sons died Sunday in eastern Oklahoma had been flagged for safety improvements since at least 2011.

Thirty-seven-year-old April Goines and her sons were killed when the car they were riding was struck by a train in Poteau. Her daughter was injured.

The Tulsa World reports that a 2015 application for a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation says the crossing was one of 12 in the state that was in great need of improvements.

“We felt there is a need there (for improvements), so it was part of a list of crossings that was put forth in the TIGER grant application in 2015,” Oklahoma transportation department spokeswoman Lisa Shearer-Salim said. “We did not get an award at that time.”

The application indicates that an inspection team reviewed the crossing in August 2011 and had recommended adding crossing gates.

Funds needed to make the crossing safer weren’t approved by the state Transportation Commission until last month at its board meeting, when official announced that the transportation department’s Rail Crossing Safety Initiative Program was eligible for funding from the Federal Highway Administration.

The Poteau crossing needed $313,000 for safety improvements, including pedestal-mounted flashing light signals with gate arms and the addition of 8 feet of surface to the track area that will be used to build a crosswalk for pedestrians.

Mayor Jeff Shockley said he wasn’t notified until January that the transportation department had identified the Poteau crossing as one that was in great need of an upgrade.

The crash is being investigated by the Federal Railroad Administration.

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