Railroad crossing is made safer

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By David Giuliani

The railroad crossing where two people have been killed over the last couple of years now has mechanical crossing guards.

Recently, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway completed the guards at the crossing at Arriba Road north of Las Vegas. The state Department of Transportation secured federal money for the project, which was budgeted at $300,000, according to the state.

The crossing is often used by those accessing the city’s transfer station.

“With all the confusion of where the responsibility lays with regard to the Arriba crossing, the NMDOT took the lead in securing federal safety money and contracting with the BNSF rail to install the rail crossing arms at Arriba Road,” District 4 Transportation Commissioner Jim Franken said in a statement. “It will be a safe area to cross for all our residents of Las Vegas and the surrounding communities.”

In January 2009, Las Vegan Michael Esquibel was killed at the crossing, and a few months before that, Fred Stark, a Denver man in town for his daughter’s wedding, was also hit and killed by a train there.

The families for both victims have sued the railroad in connection with their loved ones’ deaths.

Lawrence Esquibel, brother of Michael Esquibel, said the new mechanical guards bring “bittersweet happiness” to his family.

“It’s a reminder of how my brother passed away and Mr. Stark passed away,” he said. “It’s good to know this won’t happen to another family.”