Home / News / Barrington School District 220 parent group wants crossing guards near railroad tracks – Chicago Tribune

Barrington School District 220 parent group wants crossing guards near railroad tracks – Chicago Tribune


A group of Barrington 220 parents, many wearing pink crossing guard vests, asked Barrington village leaders earlier this month to install permanent crossing guards at the village’s railroad crossings after a Barrington High School student walking to school was recently struck and killed by a train. .

Roma Khan, a parent of two SD220 students, founded the new Barrington Student Safety Organization just days after Marin Lacson, 17, a junior at BHS, was fatally struck by a Metra commuter train. Lacson was walking to school on Jan. 25 when he was struck by a train heading to downtown Chicago during morning rush hour on the Union Pacific-Northwest Line.

Elizabeth Owens-Schiele/Pioneer Press

Members of the Barrington Student Safety Organization attended the Barrington Village Board Committee meeting on February 12, 2024, requesting permanent crossing guards at all railroad crossings in the city. The request comes after a Barrington High School student was fatally struck. By Metra commuter train in January.

Metra officials said the lights and security gates at the crossing at Hough and Main streets were activated, according to eyewitnesses.

Khan addressed village trustees at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Feb. 12, explaining on Facebook that the goal of his organization, which he said has 400 members, is to improve the safety of students before and after school with the addition of crossing guards. Each of the village’s seven railway crossings.

Members of the organization have volunteered since January 29 as railroad crossing guards, working Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 9 a.m. and after school from 3 to 4 p.m. He said he was working. Volunteers said they help up to a dozen students each day cross the tracks at some intersections where there are no crosswalks.

Khan said he contacted the village via email and asked for information about the village’s current contract with traffic crossing officers. The nonprofit organization gave the village until March 4 to comply with its request for permanent crossing guards.

“This all started with a very terrible incident,” Khan told Pioneer Press after the meeting.

He said the group was founded for advocacy, action and accountability.

“As members of society, we have to live with the knowledge that every day a child of someone in our community goes missing. We can’t change that, but at least through rail safety we can make sure no other parent has to go through this pain,” Khan said.

Village Manager Scott Anderson said during the meeting that Khan had also been notified via email that village staff had requested an increase in contract coverage for the current crossing security service and was still trying to determine current staffing numbers and associated costs. .

“We will remain committed to transitions with police officers and school resource officers until we reach a possible coverage change with our current provider,” Anderson said during the meeting. “As a safety measure, we have police officers trying to make people more aware of rail crossings and safety features, and trying to make sure we are all modeling good behavior, from drivers to pedestrians.”

He said village staff continues to meet regularly with the Illinois Commerce Commission and Illinois Department of Transportation to install pedestrian gates at each of the village’s railroad crossings.

He said the village has also updated the Safety Page on its website and is working with Metra to plan rail safety training for community members. He said staff also plans to develop and install pedestrian signs and warnings.

Volunteer crossing guards say they’ve witnessed the impact of their presence.

“I think it was very effective,” Kristin Gareiss, a parent who stops at the crossing point where Marin was shot and killed every morning at 8 a.m., told the Pioneer Press after the meeting. “I talked to every single one of them the first few mornings. [the students] So I told them, ‘Don’t turn off your music, take your headphones off, put your hoods down.’ It took me one time to say this to get them to do it the next day and the next.

Gareiss also said drivers passing through intersections are being more careful and have noticed that not many people are stopping on the tracks when stopped at a red light.

Trustees expressed their condolences to the Lacson family, and some became emotional at the Village Board meeting held immediately following the COW meeting.

“This is every parent’s worst nightmare,” Trustee Jennifer Wondrasek said of the tragedy. “Our community is a community of action and our board is a board of action, and it’s our job to bring all of those players to the table. This is Metra, this is UP [Union Pacific] and the school district will help take precautions so we can prevent this from happening again.

Following the meeting, Mayor Karen Darch explained to the Pioneer Press that the planned underpass on Canadian National railway company tracks at Route 14 has been in the planning stages for more than 15 years and is expected to help prevent incidents like the one involving Lacson. from occurring.

The underpass project includes the creation of separate and safer roads for vehicles and pedestrians to pass over the railway. Darch said construction is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

Elizabeth Owens-Schiele is a freelance writer.


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