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Eaton takes 5th street safety into its own hands

Mayor Ross closes access to train crossing following second student death

Morgan Koeltzow, News Editor

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Eaton community members met on Saturday morning, and by that afternoon the town had constructed a blockade cutting off traffic to 5th Street and its deadly railroad crossing.

Mayor Kevin Ross addressed a crowd of community members at the Eaton Rec Center on Saturday, Feb. 10 emphasizing that this process was being expedited immediately following the tragic death of high school senior Kennedi Ingram on Tuesday, Feb. 6. “We will not take ‘no’ for an answer,” Ross said concerning the construction of a crossing signal at the intersection that is slated for next year. “We will get this done a hell of a lot sooner than 2019.” Ross’s announcement was followed by a standing ovation from the nearly 150 attendees.

Representatives from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) as well as Representative Cory Gardner’s office were also in attendance, along with several Denver news outlets.

A County Commissioner’s office representative answers a question from the crowd.

 

Ross, said several changes will be made at the train intersection that took not only Ingram’s life but also that of sophomore Dallas Duran almost exactly a year before. Crossing arms and flashing lights will be added to improve the safety of the community, but, Ross said, until that point the road closure will remain in effect. CDOT officials confirmed that the crossing guards have been moved to the fast track for installation.

Community members were both respectful and passionate, and the first thing Ross did was to step down from the podium and hold a moment of silence for both students. Before detailing the plans regarding 5th Street, friends and family of Nik Krause also voiced their frustrations at a crossing light still not being up at the intersection of Highway 85 and CR 76, north of the town.

Krause, a 2012 graduate of Eaton High School was killed in a traffic accident at this intersection two years ago, and speakers were concerned that the closure of 5th Street would push more traffic down 76, creating another potentially deadly scenario. CDOT said that the crossing signal lights that are already approved for the intersection of Highway 85 and 76 will be installed this spring. CDOT is also expediting this project in the interest of public safety.

A member of the audience brought up more concerns over speed limits on Highway 85 north of town and the enforcement of those limits. Ross answered by promising more enforcement of speed limits, saying that the town and the state patrol will be adding more enforcement to ensure that motorists are driving the posted speed limits.

The safety of the community was a topic heavily discussed during the meeting, and an audience member suggested the district begin driving safety instruction at the middle school level. CDOT was supportive of that and it was duly noted by a school district member, Bridgette Muse, who was in the audience.

Petitions have been placed around town to collect signatures from Weld County citizens after an electronic version was started online. The online petition received over 2500 signatures within the first day and is now at over 13,000 signatures. Ross said the petitions will be presented at Thursday’s town board meeting and then sent to CDOT.

The audience wanted to be assured that the passing of these young lives in a short span of time would not be forgotten and that all parties, including Union Pacific and CDOT, will be held accountable. One community member said, “We need a promise to help our children heal. They have the right to know that this won’t happen again, in the exact same spot.”

 

 

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Eaton takes 5th street safety into its own hands