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Report by Paula Antolini
February 16, 2015 5:59PM EDT
U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), held a news conference in Grand Central Terminal in New York City on Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015, and announced a plan for new federal legislation that would improve safety at railroad crossings and nearly double the funding to reduce highway-rail grade collisions.
The bill is called the Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Act of 2015. It is based on the “Three E’s” which are engineering, education and enforcement. These are the the factors that experts have identified as most important methods of reducing collisions.
The Senators want to make the railroad crossings safer. The legislation they are proposing would provide for the Federal Railroad Administration, states and communities to make important upgrades at rail crossings.
This comes on the heels of the recent Mercedes SUV and train collision at a Metro-North Harlem Line rail crossing, that happened in Valhalla, New York, on February 3, 2015, killing six people and injuring fifteen others.
“It’s crystal clear that the existence of the rail crossing played at least some role in that tragic, fatal accident,” said Schumer.
The cause of the accident is yet to be determined, but the legislators noted that more than 200 people died in grade-crossing accidents in 2013. A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board is expected next week.
“Many of New York’s hundreds of rail-grade crossings are truly accidents waiting to happen, and it’s critical that the federal government do more to make engineering upgrades at accident-prone crossings,” Schumer said.
On average, there’s an accident every three hours at rail intersections that still rely on outdated signal and warning systems, Blumenthal said.