WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) -Safety was the theme at Tuesday's Wichita Falls City Council meeting. Council members voted to start handing out fines to pedestrians crossing the tracks while there is a train on them.
“It’s becoming problematic if you go downtown right now the railroad tracks cross between the east side and downtown there are a lot of transient people that try to cross there when those trains are there, and it’s just super dangerous. It’s just very very dangerous. You have people crawl under, crawl through, sometimes they’re hanging onto them. I’ve witnessed it, and we’ve have plenty of citizens witness it,” said Wichita Falls City Mayor Stephen Santellana.
So city leaders feel it's time to take action. The Ordinance passing with no objection at Tuesdays City council meeting is similar to House Bill 2775 that just became law in Texas.
A pedestrian may not move in front of, under, between, or through the cars of a moving or stationary train occupying any part of a railroad grade crossing if you do you could get a $500 ticket.
The Mayor says this is just the short-term solution.
“We are going to be smart about how we give the fines out. One of the council members brought up some of these people are indigent and not going to have the ability to pay these fines I think we are going to be smart about that about and look to the most problematic individuals that maybe are not paying attention and won’t heed the warning to stay off the tracks.”
The group “WeCan” has been working on possible solutions for this problem for some time now and while they support the city actions they’ve got a more long-term fix.
“We’ve been working with Burlington National Santa Fe Railroad who has proposed some funding to help us either put a safe pedestrian crossing or do a combination pedestrian and vehicular crossing at the same time,” said WeCan member, Debra Bacashihua.
She adds the communication is still young, so nothing is official yet, but changes regarding fines are set to begin in the next 30 days.