A bill announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other legislative leaders this week is another step in the right direction to ensure safety at railroad crossings , according to one local legislator.
“I think it’s a complement to the bill we already passed,” State Sen. David Carlucci said Tuesday over the phone.
The bill supported by the governor and other legislators will require bi-annual inspections of the 5,300 railroad crossings in the state, will launch an awareness campaign, and includes increased fines for motorists who drive through these crossings when not permitted and for railroad companies for failing to maintain a crossing.
In February 2015, five Metro-North Railroad passengers were killed when the train they were on collided with a car stuck on the tracks in Valhalla. The driver of the car, Ellen Brody, was also killed.
In May, a bill sponsored by Carlucci was passed that directs the state Department of Transportation and other agencies to conduct a statewide study to ensure adequate safety measures exist at highway-railroad grade in order to prevent train and car collisions. (Rockland Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and Assemblyman James Skoufis were co-sponsors on the Assembly version of the bill.)
By conducting this study, an inventory of rail crossing will be created and used to identify the most dangerous crossings, crossings in need of minor repairs, and crossings that should be closed.
Rockland only has five commuter train stops but the issue is still significant given the freight trains, specifically bomb trains carrying crude oil, that move through the county on a daily basis, Carlucci said.
The devastation that occurred in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec during a rail disaster in 2013 is one example as to why these safety measures are being implemented.
"Derailment or an accident at one of these rail crossings with one of these trains carrying toxic crude oil-you’re talking about a tragedy,” Carlucci said, adding these measures affect the community at large.
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