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Centerville Township v. Commerce Com.

OPINION FILED FEBRUARY 16, 1955.

CENTERVILLE TOWNSHIP ET AL., APPELLEES,

v.

THE ILLINOIS COMMERCE COMMISSION, APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. QUINTON SPIVEY, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE HERSHEY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal from an order entered by the circuit court of St. Clair County vacating an order of the Illinois Commerce Commission, prescribing certain grade crossing protection at the intersection of the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company tracks and Jerome Lane in Centerville Township, St. Clair County.

A petition was filed on December 8, 1951, with the commission which alleged that a hazardous condition existed at the grade crossing of Jerome Lane and the tracks of the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, in an unincorported area known as Maplewood, Centerville Township, St. Clair County. The petition stated that Maplewood was a thickly populated community and Jerome Lane a main thoroughfare connecting Maplewood with other populous areas; that there were three public schools located on Jerome Lane near its intersection with the said railroad right of way; that there had been accidents at said crossing; that the crossing was extra-hazardous; and that no measures had been taken to protect the public.

After notice the cause was set for hearing, and appearances were entered for Howard Hayden, who filed the petition, School District No. 187, the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, Centerville Township, Frank Bauer, highway commissioner of Centerville Township, and St. Clair County. After hearings were held, the commission entered an order which directed the railroad to install flashing light signals and short-arm gates at this crossing, at an estimated cost of $13,680, to be paid for equally by the railroad and Centerville Township. The railroad was ordered to bear the entire expense of maintenance.

Centerville Township and Frank Bauer, highway commissioner, filed a petition for rehearing which alleged, in substance, as follows: (1) that the crossing was not extra-hazardous within the meaning of section 58 of the Public Utilities Act; (2) that in the interest of public safety it was not necessary that flashing light signals and short-arm gates be installed; (3) that the installation of flashing light signals alone would be sufficient to give adequate protection; (4) that the equal apportioning of equipment and installation costs between Centerville Township and the railroad was contrary to the law and the evidence; and (5) that Centerville Township was without funds to pay any part of the costs involved in connection with the installation of flashing light signals and short-arm gates. The petition for rehearing was denied by the commission.

An appeal was taken to the circuit court of St. Clair County, which vacated the order of the commission and remanded the cause to the commission with the "recommendation" that "the interest of the Public safety would be served by adequate and appropriate protective facilities being installed consisting of flashing light signals to operate automatically at said crossing instead of the flashing light signals and short-arm gates as outlined in paragraph 10 of the Order of the Illinois Commerce Commission dated May 6, 1952."

The commission has appealed to this court, contending that the circuit court erred in vacating its order because said order was within the commission's jurisdiction and not against the manifest weight of the evidence.

By statute the petition for rehearing must set out all errors complained of, and the scope of judicial review is limited to matters therein specified. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1953, chap. 111 2/3, par. 71; City of Granite City v. Commerce Com. 407 Ill. 245, 250; Chicago Junction Railway Co. v. Commerce Com. 412 Ill. 579, 588.

As aforesaid, it was urged in the petition for rehearing that the crossing was not extra-hazardous within the meaning of section 58 of the Public Utilities Act. In addition, it was alleged that flashing light signals without short-arm gates would be sufficient to give adequate protection to the public.

Section 58 of the Public Utilities Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1953, chap. 111 2/3, par. 62,) empowers the Illinois Commerce Commission to order the reconstruction, alteration, relocation or improvement of any crossing whenever the commission finds, after a hearing, that such reconstruction or improvement is required in the interest of public safety.

The commission here made eight specific findings concerning the locality, traffic, and conditions surrounding the crossing and concluded that "the installation, maintenance and operation of said automatic flashing light signals and short-arm gates is required in the interest of public safety."

The evidence discloses that Jerome Lane is a black-top road maintained by Centerville Township. It runs in a general easterly and westerly direction and is the main thoroughfare connecting the villages of Cahokia and Monsanto with the unincorporated areas of Centerville Township. The double tracks of the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company run in a general northerly and southerly direction and intersect with Jerome Lane at right angles in an unincorporated community known as Maplewood on the outskirts of East St. Louis in Centerville Township. At the present time there is no protection at said crossing except standard cross-buck signs indicating a railroad.

Maplewood is a growing community with nearly 1200 people, and including the immediately surrounding area approximates 3000. A considerable amount of traffic originates out of Centerville Township using Jerome Lane for the purpose of going into the industrial areas of Monsanto and Union Electric and to Belleville, Fairmont City and French Village. The road also connects with State Route 3 which leads into southern Illinois.

There are two schools on Jerome Lane near the crossing. The Maplewood grade school is immediately adjacent to the tracks, and a new high school is located on the opposite side of the tracks at a distance of three quarters of a mile. It was estimated that approximately 60 to 75 students cross the tracks on foot going to and from the grade ...


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