MENDON, Mo. — Federal investigators arrived at the site of a deadly Amtrak derailment in Mendon on Tuesday morning.

They will likely spend months looking into what went wrong at the crossing and why the train collided with a dump truck, killing three people and injuring dozens of other passengers.

People living near the train tracks crossing said they aren’t surprised by the crash because the crossing is dangerous.

“Whenever you cross here with a combine you have to actually put your steering wheel all the way forward and stand up out of the seat as you are trying to climb that approach and cross and look down the track both ways,” said farm operator Mike Spencer.

According to a report by the Missouri Department of Transportation, the state knew the site needed improvements.

In a report published in February, MoDOT recommended installing lights and gates to the rural crossing. The report also said improvements to the road at the crossing were needed.

MoDOT predicted the project would cost about $400,000.

MoDOT also identified a number of goals and objectives in its 2022 Freight and Rail Plan.

Topping the list is safety and to “decrease the number and severity of crashes involving commercial motor vehicles.”

Next on the overall list is to “improve grade crossing surfaces, utilize warning devices, and pursue road closures and grade separations, where appropriate.”

The department proposed increasing vehicle registration fees to pay for railroad safety or expand the STAR loan program in an effort for more funding for rail-related and crossing improvements.

The report said one of the biggest issues is that there is no dedicated state funding to pay for the improvements. Each year it’s up to the Missouri legislature and governor to approve funding for necessary rail projects and improvements.

Chariton County Commissioners said they were also aware of Mike Spencer’s concerns about the crossing, and spoke to him in December of 2019.

According to information from the Chariton County Presiding Commissioner, the commission also met with MoDOT Railroad Safety about the crossing in December 2019. At that point, commissioners said the department was aware of the issues at the crossing and it was on the state’s list to repair.

Months later, in March 2021, MoDOT, Spencer, and commissioners all met at the crossing, according to county leaders. They agreed the crossing needed to be improved.

Commissioners said they never heard back from MoDOT, on May 31, 2022, county commissioners said they called Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad to express concerns with visibility issues at the rail crossing.

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