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State reveals plans for crossing

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By Lee Einer

The railroad crossing where two people have been killed in recent months is set to get safety equipment, an official said this week.

The Rio Arriba Road crossing north of Las Vegas got stop signs and pavement markings Wednesday and more safety equipment may be on the way, said  Paul Gray, the local district engineer for the state Department of Transportation.

“We’re hoping that  it will raise the awareness of motorists at that intersection, so they will stop and look both ways before making the crossing,” Gray said.

Gray said this preliminary safety equipment is an effort coordinated with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.  

“I think it’s a start,” Gray said. “We’re hoping that by doing that it will raise the awareness of motorists at that intersection so they will stop and look both ways before making the crossing.”

Michael Esquibel was killed last month and Fred Stark four months earlier at the Rio Arriba crossing, which is near the city’s transfer station. Both were attempting to cross the railroad. Oncoming trains aren’t all that visible to motorists.

“We have submitted for funding for highway safety improvement funding through the Highway Safety Administration,” Gray said. “Even though it’s not a state highway and not a road currently owned by the NMDOT, because of the fatalities, we have submitted for that funding and it has been preliminarily selected for approval.”

Gray said that if the funding is approved, the crossing will receive a full-fledged crossing signal complete with lights, bells and gates which will come down to prevent motorists from crossing in front of oncoming trains.