DYER | Kory Peterson and his classmates at Kahler Middle School got lessons Tuesday on how to cross the rail tracks on U.S. 30.
The lessons are part of Indiana Rail Safety Week, held through Saturday throughout the region. Officers from nine departments and rail entities were at the U.S. 30 tracks west of Calumet Avenue to hand out fliers and commemorative pencils to Kahler students heading home, and also to remind them of rail safety tips.
Officers from Canadian National, CSX, Union Pacific, the Illinois Operation Lifesaver task force, Norfolk Southern, Indiana Harbor Belt railroad and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District are participating throughout the week.
Indiana Operation Lifesaver is highlighting several crossings this Rail Safety Week, two of them in Dyer. Officers were at 77th and Granite, where there were two crashes last year, one of them fatal, and the U.S. 30 crossing.
The area around U.S. 30 and Calumet is particularly problematic because of Kahler Middle School and the Dyer Little League field. Students and ballplayers take shortcuts across the tracks while heading home.
“We’re here to help,” Dyer Police Chief David Hein said as officers teamed with their railroad counterparts. Dyer officers stood outside Kahler to hand out information to students boarding buses or meeting their parents. Graf and other rail police remained at the U.S. 30 crossing itself, to meet with students walking home.
All second-graders in the Lake Central School Corp. attend a rail safety class at Safety Village, and so CN police officer Eric T. Graf felt he might be meeting some old friends Tuesday afternoon.
“I teach the class,” he explained.
“You remember the class at Safety Village?” he asked a group of approaching students. “Well, that was me.”
“We can’t cross the tracks anymore,” Peterson, 13, an eighth-grader, announced after he got his rail information. He and classmate Conner Tomasic, 14, walk east on U.S. 30 to go home, and they do sometimes cross the tracks themselves, he said.
But the tracks are railroad property, and pedestrians and cyclists should stay on the sidewalk, Graf explained. Cyclists should walk their bikes until they clear the rail track area. “It only takes 60 seconds,” he told two passing cyclists. For safety reasons, pedestrians wearing ear buds should remove them until after they leave the rail area, he told a student who was listening to music.
Rail officers also will be at the Dickey Road crossing north of Michigan in East Chicago on Wednesday, and at the Lake, Clay and Utah streets crossing in Miller on Thursday.