DCTA

A Denton County Transit Authority A-train sits motionless at the Brinker Road crossing July 22 after hitting a bicyclist, who later died at a hospital. A report from the Federal Railroad Administration says this crossing, along with nine others in Denton, are not in compliance to allow them to be quiet zones.

The list of the 10 crossings has been updated to include East Sycamore Street.

Trains run by the Denton County Transportation Authority must sound horns at 10 “quiet zone” crossings in Denton because a federal inspector has found the crossings do not meet federal standards, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

Among the crossings that are not in compliance is the Brinker Road crossing, where on July 22 a man was killed after he was struck by an A-train while riding his bicycle.

The FRA inspection came Tuesday, about a week after the cyclist was killed. The inspection report said there is evidence at the Brinker crossing of “worn paths” where “cyclists and or pedestrians take shortcuts to cross tracks, placing themselves at risk of being struck by [an oncoming] train or motorists.”

The FRA inspector did not recommend any citations for the Brinker crossing or any other of the nine crossings.

Carolyn Cook, a senior crossing and trespass prevention manager for the Southwest region, said the FRA was not rescinding Denton’s quiet crossing.

“The inspection found items that need to be corrected,” Cook said, adding that she deferred any additional questions to the agency’s media relations officers in Washington, D.C.

Denton police said the cyclist, 53-year-old Joseph Whelen, died in a hospital after he was struck by an A-train. A police spokeswoman said the man appeared to have been listening to music when he was struck. DCTA said the train was traveling at 40 mph and had its brakes applied and its horn blowing before the collision.

Denton and DCTA officials already have been working to improve the safety of the Brinker crossing and others mentioned in the FRA inspection report. The plan is to add safety features at the intersection, according to a report to City Council members from last week. City spokesman Ryan Adams said earlier this week that those plans will be made public sometime in August.

A request to a spokeswoman to speak to DCTA officials about the plan at Brinker was not immediately returned on Thursday.

All 10 of the crossings scrutinized by the FRA are known as quiet zones. These zones are crossings where train horns do not sound as the trains cross a roadway. Cities can establish these zones for various reasons, but they are regulated by the FRA.

A 2017 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office says these zones are about as safe as crossings with horns sounding, but safety projections at these crossings do not account for conditions at the crossing that could change over time and lead to safety issues. Those changing conditions included the infrastructure in the area of the crossing.

The 10 crossings do not meet FRA standards, “due primarily to street paint fading and signage visibility,” according to a city of Denton news release Thursday. DCTA train will sound horns while crossing each of the sites until further notice, the release said.

The 10 crossings are:

  • Lakeview Boulevard
  • Pockrus Page Road
  • Mayhill Road
  • Brinker Road
  • Colorado Boulevard
  • Shady Oaks Drive
  • Duncan Street
  • Morse Street
  • East Prairie Street
  • East Sycamore Street

Staff writer Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe contributed to this report. DALTON LAFERNEY can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @daltonlaferney.

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