LIRR closes grade crossing near site of deadly crash for reconstruction

NEW CASSEL, Nassau County (WABC) -- The MTA is closing the first of many railroad crossings on Long Island in an effort to make them safer.

The change comes one week after three men were killed in a LIRR train crash in Westbury.

Urban Avenue in New Cassel was closed Friday as part of the major reconstruction.

At rush hour, train after train speeds through the congested section of the main line at up to 80 miles an hour. It forces vehicle traffic to come to a complete stop every couple of minutes.

Andrew Vigliotti, the owner of a nearby landscaping business, is in favor of the project.

"Everyone's aware of the accident on the next crossing just a week or two ago," Vigliotti said. "So years ago, less traffic, it didn't matter. Long Island is so congested, it's the right thing to do."

The MTA is rebuilding the railroad crossing at Urban Avenue and will bury the road under the tracks, with a sidewalk as well.

It's part of a larger project to add capacity with a third track and rebuild seven of the grade crossings, including about a mile and a half away at School Street.

That's where the three men drove around the gate and their car was demolished by a pair of trains traveling in opposite directions.

Federal safety data shows these intersections are dangerous.

"Just a brief two-second distraction can be enough to take his attention from the road and not see that the gates are down, crash through the gates, and this (train) could be waiting on the other side," said Robert Sinclair, with AAA.

The MTA expects this project to be completed in the fall, and in the meantime, they will be running a shuttle service from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays every half hour to get people around the closed section of Urban Avenue.

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