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Illinois commission orders Keokuk Junction to fix crossing surface; order is 'fundamentally unjust,' railroad says


Last week, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) issued a citation against the Keokuk Junction Railway (KJRY) for failing to repair a “dangerous condition” at a grade crossing on U.S. Route 67 in Good Hope.

After receiving complaints from the public, local governmental officials and state representatives, the ICC’s rail safety staff inspected the crossing and determined its condition doesn’t meet the minimum requirements of a state statute. Staff members found that an existing concrete panel surface had failed, according to the ICC.

The citation requires KJRY officials to appear at a hearing in the commission’s office in Springfield, Ill., on Nov. 17 and explain why an order shouldn’t be issued requiring the Pioneer Railcorp-owned railroad to make appropriate repairs to the crossing surface, ICC officials said in a prepared statement. KJRY officials also must prepare a schedule specifying how and when crossing surface repairs will be completed.

As of Oct. 22, KJRY officials hadn’t seen the commission’s order, which was issued without any prior notice to the railroad that a proceeding was even pending, they said in a prepared statement.

“KJRY points out that its trains do not use the highway crossing surface and, therefore, do not cause the damage KJRY is being asked to fix, at substantial cost to the railroad,” they said.

The ICC’s interpretation of the statute — which requires rail carriers to maintain highway surfaces — is “both fundamentally unjust and unconstitutional,” KJRY officials said.

“Railroads already suffer the expense of maintaining and operating signals, as well as the operating burdens and risks of these unwanted crossings,” they said. “It is time that highway authorities stop asking for more subsidies from small railroads.”

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More News from 10/25/2010