RR decals: Low-cost life savers?

(Source: Coeur d’Alene Press 07/26/2018)

July 26, 2018 at 5:00 am | By BRIAN WALKER Staff Writer

Jake Burkey of the Idaho Transportation Department heats a pedestrian warning decal on Wednesday at the Union Pacific Railroad crossing along Spokane Street in Post Falls. The decals are part of a pilot project at five locations statewide exploring low-cost ways of reducing accidents. (BRIAN WALKER/Press)

POST FALLS — Travis Campbell wasn’t thrilled when he saw a young driver looking at his cellphone while listening to music.

But concern turned to elation when Campbell watched the young man stop in his tracks to heed a warning decal. The driver then looked both ways before proceeding.

“I wish I had it on video,” said Campbell, executive director of the nonprofit Idaho Operation Lifesaver. “That’s the behavior we like to see.”

Campbell was referring to a moment last week after reflective “See Tracks? Think Train” decals were installed on a pedestrian pathway next to a rail crossing in Blackfoot.

The work was duplicated on Wednesday along the Union Pacific Railroad crossing on Spokane Street in Post Falls, an intersection notorious for accidents. The work is part of a statewide safety pilot project and collaboration between the nonprofit and Idaho Transportation Department.

Idaho Operation Lifesaver received a $20,000 Federal Railroad Administration grant to complete the project in five counties at seven intersections with a high number of accidents. The goal is to provide a low-cost safety measure.

ITD purchased the decals and donated the labor to install them as part of the in-kind match from the state.

“We will be observing people’s behavior at these intersections to see if it’s worth the $150 for each decal,” Campbell said. “If they do get people off the phone and engaged in their real environment, this could be a low-cost way of raising awareness.”

Campbell said it’s possible that the decals could be made larger and placed in the middle of roadways in the future, but the pilot project focuses on bike and pedestrian trails.

He said the Spokane Street crossing was chosen because it’s busy both with foot traffic and golfers playing the adjacent Prairie Falls course.

“If it saves one life, it’s well worth doing,” said Rob Palus, Post Falls’ assistant city engineer who observed the decals being installed. “Many times people forget to take a look before they cross.”

Palus said that if the decals were expanded to roadways, each intersection would have to be evaluated.

“Sometimes maybe lights and gates in place are all that’s needed,” he said.