Benton, IL train crossings concern city leaders - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Benton, IL train crossings concern city leaders

Community Leaders in Benton, Illinois are speaking out for the safety of their residents. (Sherae Honeycutt/KFVS) Community Leaders in Benton, Illinois are speaking out for the safety of their residents. (Sherae Honeycutt/KFVS)
BENTON, IL (KFVS) -

Community Leaders in Benton, Illinois are speaking out for the safety of their residents.

Both the Mayor and Fire Chief say trains blocking the road are the issue.

Driving through Benton, Illinois you are bound to cross the tracks.

Mayor Fred Kondritz goes through them every day, and says they can be deadly in ways some may not even think.

"That's how desperate the situation has come," Kondritz said.

Fire Chief Shane Cockrum agrees.

"Everything's all about time. Everything. Whether it be a fire, police, or EMS incident. Time is of the essence, and seconds count," Cockrum said.

Chief Cockrum says sometimes those seconds waiting at the tracks can turn into hours.

Time that cost Mayor Kondritz a dear friend almost ten years ago.

"The emergency people in our county did everything they could to get him to the hospital and the train wouldn't move. It couldn't move, wouldn't move," Kondritz said.

He died in the ambulance waiting for the train.

Chief Cockrum says isn't the first time they've had an issue like this.

He estimates ambulances wait for trains in Benton ten to twenty times per year.

"To be honest with you just last week we were stopped with an ambulance waiting to get to the other side," Cockrum said.

Now both men are hoping a plea to state government can help put at least one overpass in place.

"We aren't in the position anymore of wanting an overpass, we are in the position of needing an overpass. It's become life threatening to our people," Mayor Kondritz said.
Even though Mayor Kondritz couldn't help prevent his friends death, both men hope it doesn't happen to another.

"I'm sorry that it happened to him and I'm sorry that he died this way, I'm sorry that he died period. He's a friend of mine and meant a lot to me. It's just a sad situation," Kondritz said.

"Every day that we go that there's not an issue, not a problem, and somebody doesn't die – is one day closer to the next person," Cockrum said.

Mayor Kondritz sometimes trains stop for over an hour, and that numerous pleas to rail employees and management have made no progress.

Kondritz is hoping to lobby with Illinois lawmakers to show them how badly at least one overpass is needed.

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