New York lawmakers call for rail crossing safety bill

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Marcus Solis has the latest details.

Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) and Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (D-Greenburgh/Mt. Pleasant) on Friday called on the New York State Senate to pass legislation that would require the State Department of Transportation to conduct a statewide study of level grade rail crossings.

The bill was first introduced following a February 2015 Metro-North crash -- the deadliest in the railroad's history -- where a commuter train collided with an SUV at a highway-railroad grade crossing at the Commerce Street crossing in Valhalla.

Alan Brody, husband of Valhalla crash victim Ellen Brody, joined Carlucci and Abinanti at the press conference held at the Commerce Street crossing.

"My family and I welcome the efforts of the Assemblyman Abinanti and Senator Carlucci as I am sure all the other victims do, too," Brody said. "But it still needs the active support and attention of the public. This could happen to you or your loved one too, and it will only change if you stay on top of it. Keep the pressure on."

Late last month, yet another commuter train collided with an empty car at a rail crossing in Bedford, Westchester County. In February, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator Sarah Feinberg sent a letter to states asking that they "visit crossings in their region and monitor and test crossing signals and adjacent traffic signals to ensure the signals are synched and operating properly."

"Although the number of fatalities and accidents at highway-railroad grade crossings have fallen steadily on a national level, over the past several years collisions have increased across New York State," Carlucci said. "Following the tragedy in Valhalla last year, it became clear we need a comprehensive study to determine problem rail grade crossings and how we can prevent future collisions."

The bill passed the Assembly in March.

"Drivers shouldn't be playing a game of chance whenever they approach a railroad crossing," Abinanti said. "We need the DOT to participate because we need to have a study from the driver's point of view. A comprehensive evaluation of these often-dangerous crossings will go a long way in protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers."

The legislation is awaiting Senate action and then the governor's signature.
Related Topics:
trafficmetro north accidentmetro northrailroad crossingsValhalla
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