Website to soon help Elkhart County drivers avoid blocked railroad crossings

NOW: Website to soon help Elkhart County drivers avoid blocked railroad crossings

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. -- Everyone can agree that waiting at a railroad crossing where the train is stopped is a huge headache.

Luckily, for folks in New Paris, they will soon be able to avoid getting stuck.

On Monday, Elkhart County Commissioners approved an agreement with local software company ‘Blocked Crossings LLC’, that will give motorists a chance to find roundabout routes for blocked train crossings at the tip of their fingers.

“Quite frankly, we as a public, are tired of being held hostage at these crossings,” says President of Elkhart County Commissioners, Commissioner Brad Rogers.

As former Elkhart County Sheriff, Rogers has known for years the kind of headache that comes with being trapped at a railroad crossing with a stopped train, but he says an even bigger headache was trying to solve the problem.

“We’ve tried to work with railroads to try to manage the crossings, they’ve just been difficult to deal with,” says Rogers.

That’s why Elkhart County Commissioners unanimously voted to approve an agreement with a local company that specializes in monitoring blocked crossings, to launch a pilot program that will help drivers find an alternative route.

Here’s how it will work: if you catch yourself stuck at a blocked railroad crossing, there will be a sign near the crossing that has a website posted on it. That site will take you to a map that shows which railroad crossings are blocked or open, indicated by either a red or green dot.

“The motoring public, if they get stopped at it, they can actually get on their smartphone, go to a website that will be on the sign, and they’ll be able to see where the closest green or the closest open crossing is,” Rogers explains.

He says the main goal is to direct motorists in the right direction of the nearest open crossing, which he says is also extremely vital to local first responders as well.

“We’ve got first responders, the fire department for New Paris, and their medics are on one side of the track, sometimes the calls are on the other side,” says Rogers.

Although this program will only monitor the eight crossings off SR15 in New Paris (CR 42, CR 29, CR 142, CR 23, CR 46/Market St., CR 146, CR 50, and US 6), the hope is that surrounding cities will hop on board, relieving headaches all across Elkhart County.

“We’re hoping that this will catch on,” Rogers hopes. “Maybe Goshen city and Elkhart city might put similar software in place, maybe even the same software.”

The program isn’t available just yet, although Rogers expects it to launch within the next 30-60 days.

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