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      Railroad Crossing Safety 'Formulated'

      An auto-train accident Thursday evening in the rural Cameron County community of Lozano sent two people to the hospital. Federal railroad records Action 4 News dug up for the crossing on Brown Tract Road and FM 1561 showed two previous accidents with injuries. The crashes occurred during the 1980's.

      Jorge Basaldua's relatives were involved in the latest crash.

      He said flashing lights and gates need to be installed at the crossing before it's too late.

      "Do we need a death here to take care of that? he said. I don't think so."

      The Texas Department of Transportation follows a ranking formula to determine which crossings will get federal funding for safety improvements, according Darin Kosmak, the Rail-Highway Section Director.

      "Because we have limited funds to provide lights and gates at unsignalized crossings... we have to have some type of ranking formula for ranking 1 against the other," Kosmak said.

      There are six factors in the Texas Priority Index Formula or PI as it TMs known for every public grade crossing across the state, according to Kosmak.

      He said the PI factors the average daily vehicle traffic, the number of special vehicles or school buses, the total number of trains, the trains TM maximum speed, the existing type of warning device in place, and also the past 5 year train involved crash history.

      TxDOT uses this information received annually from city, county, state, school and other agencies to rank which crossing is in greater need.

      We asked Kosmak to explain how Lozano would fare against a crossing in the city of Amarillo? "If you take a crossing in Amarillo that has 60 trains per day at 70 miles per hour and the average daily traffic is the same... than the crossing in Amarillo will get funding for signal upgrades sooner than the crossing in Lozano because of fewer train traffic at lower speeds," Kosmak answered. There are no plans to upgrade Lozano's railroad crossing in question through at least the rest of this year.