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Content Any Way U Want It!

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September 29, 2023

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Do more than just police the tracks

In July, citizens and students of Bowling Green were made aware of the dangers of crossing the railroad tracks when two men, in separate incidents, were killed when a CSX train struck them late at night.

The two incidents were only nine days apart, giving the police an opportunity to go forth with an agenda to increase citations for illegally crossing the tracks.

In fact, CSX sent a police force to monitor the railroad tracks last weekend for any crossings not done at legal intersections. The citations fees are $150 to $250, and some also carried risks of jail time.

Right now, there are about 500 people a year who die from these trespassing or illegal crossing offenses. Sixty-two percent of those deaths still occur even when all the proper alarms are functioning – the train has slowed down and is blowing its horn; the lights and bells are working.

Many people have said perhaps the victims were intoxicated or they were under emotional stress.

A month later, police and the county coroner have released little information on the circumstances surrounding these incidents. As a result, it would be premature to make those assumptions.

So what exactly would solve this issue permanently?

Though the fear of a citation may temporarily quell illegal crossings on railroad tracks, it is a weak attack to ensure the safety of pedestrians, most of those pedestrians being students.

Just across the tracks are University-rented apartments available to any student who would prefer to live in them. It would be ridiculous for the police and CSX to assume they will scare those students away from crossing the tracks where they choose.

But we cannot blame police officers for doing their jobs. In fact, it is private property, and pedestrians should be held accountable, no matter how convenient those paths may be.

Only the city and the University can solve this issue. While there are many native residents to Bowling Green, students make up a very large part of its population.

It is the responsibility of the University to cultivate and put into action an agenda that is beneficial to the students. In this case, the necessary agenda would be creating safer routes for students who not only live on the other side of the tracks, but those who also live on the other side of Wooster.

In October 2006, The BG News printed an article that described police having problems with students continuously jaywalking across Wooster Street and Thurstin Avenue. Students living across the street see an inconvenience in taking scenic routes toward the nearest intersection.

I spoke to Undergraduate Student Government President Johnnie Lewis about past efforts USG and the administration have taken to create more crosswalks. “Those have lost their momentum,” Lewis said.

But the University of Georgia, for instance, received $280,000 through the Transportation Enhancement Act to improve its walkways for students as well as create paths 8 feet wide from student residential areas to the school.

Pedestrian walkway bridges have been created over railroad tracks where pedestrian traffic is heavy. Other more cost-effective measures include having paved pedestrian walkways with an alarm, bell and whistle similar to those at road intersections.

The city should recognize the benefits of having a university close by and respect our wishes to further expand student-friendly initiatives throughout the city, such as allowing the creation of walkways and pedestrian bridges.

It is very tragic that two people have been killed this summer in train incidents. But instead of giving the student population more restriction through citation and fear-mongering, we should come to a compromise that isn’t as reactionary and that benefits all citizens of Bowling Green.

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