Alcove Avenue & US 62 railroad crossing changes possible with Lubbock County road improvements

The crossing is what TxDOT calls a “passive crossing,” meaning it does not have active traffic control measures like crossing arms and signal lights.
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 7:12 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 27, 2023 at 10:26 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Future improvements to a portion of Alcove Avenue in west Lubbock County, part of the Better Safer Roads Bond Program, could impact the railroad crossing at Highway 62, which has concerned some KCBD viewers.

The crossing is what TxDOT calls a “passive crossing,” meaning it does not have active traffic control measures like crossing arms and signal lights.

With increasing traffic due to new businesses, homes and Frenship ISD’s future Alcove Trails Middle School, concerns have been raised about the crossing and the state of Alcove Avenue itself.

Lubbock County is set to reconfigure Alcove Avenue, CR 1500, into a 3-lane roadway from 66th Street to US 62. Those plans have been in place since before the road was annexed by the City of Wolfforth.

County Commissioner Terence Kovar tells KCBD the designs are 90 percent complete, but the project won’t go out to bid until the summer of 2024.

“Coordination is ongoing with the City of Wolfforth, Watco RR (Lubbock and Western Railway) and TxDOT regarding the at grade crossing,” Kovar said.

In the meantime, TxDOT’s Rail Division, which oversees railway safety in Texas, has planned no site visits to the crossing to review the safety measures.

According to TxDOT, the Division uses a formula including the Annual Average Daily Traffic count and number of incidents, to determine if it needs to visit the crossing.

TxDOT provided data from 2019, which it told KCBD is the most recent, which shows two trains per day and 150 vehicles utilize the crossing and it has no history of incidents.

A site review can happen if the public reports near misses or concerns by using the toll-free number on the blue signs at crossing locations, 1-866-386-9321. Callers will be asked to give the crossing number. The Alcove Avenue & US 62 crossing is 017 729 F.

The railroad company can also request an upgrade to the crossing. KCBD sent an email to the Watco general manager and has not heard back.

TxDOT provided the following safety tips for drivers at railroad crossings:

  • Never race a train to a crossing. Slow down when approaching a crossing in case a train is present. Be prepared to stop at the first railroad warning sign, at least 15 feet from the crossing.
  • Look up and down the tracks. It is difficult to judge the distance and approach speed of a train. If in doubt, be safe, stop, and wait.
  • Keep your rear in the clear. Trains are wider than the tracks, typically 6 feet beyond the rail. Be sure to leave some “living” room.
  • If it won’t fit, don’t commit. Do not enter a crossing unless you can drive completely though without stopping. Further, because trains are wider than the track, there must be enough room on the other side for the back of the truck and any overhanging cargo to avoid stopping until the load is at least 6 FEET past the last rail at the crossing.
  • Don’t expect to hear a train both because of the noise inside the vehicle and the sounds of the engine. Don’t rely on the signals. Don’t rely on the train whistle. Noise inside the vehicle may be too loud to hear the warning.
  • Remember that a full stop is required for certain vehicles and cargo, especially hazardous materials and tankers. When stopping, be sure to watch traffic from behind, and turn on emergency flashers when stopping to reduce the likelihood of being struck from behind.
  • Be especially alert at passive crossings—those that do not have gates or flashing red signal lights.
  • Remember that multiple tracks require multiple checks; a train on one track may hide a train on another track.
  • Be cautious about obstructions that may block the view of an approaching train— vegetation, buildings, standing railcars, etc.
  • Be completely sure that the load is able to cross all tracks without changing gears, braking, or stopping. Load drivers should keep moving once starting over the tracks, even if lights start flashing and the gates come down. Make sure any traffic lights or stop signs are far enough past the tracks to allow the load to completely cross and be an adequate distance from the tracks before stopping.
  • Expect a train on any track at any time. Approach each crossing with the expectation that a train is coming.
  • Be alert to weather and how it affects conditions at the crossings, such as impaired sight distance and substantially increased stopping distances not only for highway traffic but also for the train.
  • Recognize that in certain areas and at certain times, trains may have several hundred passengers on them.