The first time a truck-driving student at Lone Star College in Houston, Texas, encounters a railroad crossing will be on a training course and not a public highway thanks to a real-world project that received a big assist from Union Pacific Railroad.
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Union Pacific supplied the signs, the expertise, and the full-throttled support for the construction of two simulated railroad crossings at the Lone Star College Transportation and Global Logistics Technology Center, which opened on June 3, 2020.
Approximately 94% of all rail-related fatalities and injuries occur at railroad crossings or due to trespassing. Nearly all are preventable.
“We are proud to add this partnership to our successful truck driving training. We hope this addition to our well-respected truck driving program prevents accidents and saves lives for future students,” said Linda L. Head, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor at Lone Star College.
The project was a golden opportunity for Union Pacific to pay its expertise and knowledge forward, helping educate a new generation of drivers about railroad crossing safety, said Andrey Drozdov, general manager of transportation in the Houston area.
“Union Pacific was honored to be a part of this project – one that will send commercial drivers out on the road with the real-world experience needed to safely approach and cross railroad tracks,” said Drozdov.
The railroad crossings – one for training, one for testing – formally opened for business Feb. 15 following a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by college and railroad officials, including Head and Drozdov.
Union Pacific got involved with the project after Lone Star College contacted Buck Russel, senior supervisor-Public Safety for Union Pacific. “They reached out to discuss how we could partner on railroad safety, and we threw several things around and landed on the simulated railroad crossing,” said Russel.
Union Pacific supplied several sets of signs, including Emergency Notification Systems’ signs with fake crossing and emergency contact numbers. But the biggest contribution from the railroad was information.
Erik Lewis, manager of public projects-Engineering, helped install the signs and provided guidance on the pavement markings, as well as the dimensions of the simulated railroad crossing.
“This is a big win for all of us – for railroaders and truckers alike who live and work safely every single day,” said Lewis.