That's the question asked by legislation introduced after a Metro-North commuter train slammed into an SUV at a crossing in Valhalla, N.Y., killing six people. More than 200 people die annually in over 2,000 grade crossing crashes.
The Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Act of 2015 (S.532) "would boost the amount of federal grants for safety upgrades at crossings, and more education and safety awareness campaigns," according to Progressive Railroading (PR). "The legislation would focus on what the senators said experts have identified as the 'three Es' of the most effective means of reducing crossing collisions: engineering, education and enforcement."
The February 3, Valhalla incident on the nation's second busiest commuter rail line, Metro-North resulted in the deaths of five train passengers and the SUV driver. It was followed by a February 23, Caltrain commuter train crash with an SUV at a busy Menlo Park, California crossing, killing the motorist. The next day, at 5:45 a.m., a Southern California Metrolink commuter train hit a pickup truck pulling a trailer that had turned on the tracks at a crossing in Oxnard. The Metrolink engineer died a week later. The truck driver had fled the scene, though he was captured and taken into custody, but released with no charges.
These grade crossings are not accidents waiting to happen, they are accidents happening again and again, claiming lives and causing catastrophic injuries and damage. These deaths and injuries can be prevented through better education, enforcement and engineering. While it is too soon to know what may have contributed to today’s tragedy, far too many crossings nationwide rely on 19th century technology. Modern engineering, increased education and stronger enforcement are needed now,” Blumenthal said.
Sen. Blumenthal introduced the highway-rail grade crossing safety legislation with Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Feb. 15 in Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. The "legislation will focus on providing new resources to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), states and localities to help make much-needed improvements at many crossings and help eliminate future collisions," writes PR. "Improved safety must rise from this dark [Metro-North] tragedy", Schumer said.
Every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train, according to Operation Lifesaver, whose "mission is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on railroad property." [See above image that includes pedestrian 'trespassing' fatalities.]
The Unceremonious Death of a Freeway Expansion Project
The end of an Oregon freeway project didn't get much fanfare, but the victory is worth celebrating.
Converting Golf Courses to Housing Never as Easy as the Market Would Like
Thousands of golf courses have closed in recent years, but the obvious redevelopment opportunity represented by many defunct courses isn’t always easy to realize.
Houston To End Bike Share Program
Lacking the funding it needs to continue, Houston’s BCycle bike share system will end operations in the coming months.
FTA Announces Tribal Transit Program Grants
The agency awarded close to $10 million to 22 communities around the country for transit improvements.
Making Colorado’s Front Range Rail a Reality
Local leaders are scrambling to bring together the funding and political support to create new intercity rail service in the fast-growing region.
How College Campuses Fulfill an Urbanist Dream
Most college campuses in the United States are inherently walkable, mixing various uses with diverse housing options and transit networks.
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Mpact: Mobility, Community, Possibility
Lassen County Planning and Building Services
City of San Carlos
National Capital Planning Commission
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.