Safety improvements on track after accident

DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) -- Six months after a deadly accident, city leaders are making a change.

The city council approved safety improvements to a dangerous railroad crossing. It's after the June death of 13-year old Deon Jackson, who was hit by a train on Griffin Street.

The tracks currently have safety lights, but no gates to stop people from crossing. Neighbors say, because of that, they see kids and adults trying to beat trains all the time.

Officials say, by spring, all should change.

Six months later, you can still see pieces of Deon Jackson's memorial. He died here crossing the tracks near the Boys and Girls Club, on a day the director still remembers.

"I was afraid that maybe it was one of our kids, so we came running out."

Jackson wasn't a member of the club, but the accident still had an impact; especially within city government. Mayor Scott Eisenhauer says officials were looking into dangerous rail crossings even before this fatality.

"I think, certainly, it brought more attention to this one, but this one was already a high priority because it was one of the few in the community that did not have crossing arms."

Soon, it will. Thanks to a study, a grant and a little help from the railroad, the Griffin Street crossing will soon get new gates, bells, signs and flashing lights. It's something the Boys and Girls Club thinks will make the area safer for kids.

"It's too bad that it takes a tragic accident for something like this to get pushed forward a little bit faster."

Meanwhile, Eisenhauer says he's been in touch with the people most impacted by the accident: Jackson's family.

"There's some solace in the fact that while it certainly doesn't bring their son back, that crossing will be safer in the future."

The changes come after the city did a safety study earlier this year. It recommended improvements to a total of four area rail crossings.

The other three will happen sometime after the Griffin Street improvements which Eisenhauer says would happen early next year.

Upgrades to Griffin Street will cost about $700,000; most of which will be paid for by a grant from the Illinois Commerce Commission. The railroad company will pay for the rest.


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