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Assemblyman Seeks Rail Crossing Safety Study, Cites Fatal Train Crash

The Commerce Street rail crossing in Valhalla as it looked on Tuesday facing the Taconic State Parkway. State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, D-Pleasantville, proposed legislation that would require the state Department of Transportation to study safety.
The Commerce Street rail crossing in Valhalla as it looked on Tuesday facing the Taconic State Parkway. State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, D-Pleasantville, proposed legislation that would require the state Department of Transportation to study safety. Video Credit: Jon Craig

VALHALLA, N.Y. - State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, a Democrat representing Greenburgh and Mounr Pleasant has called for passage pf his legislation that would direct state Department of Transportation to conduct a statewide study of level grade rail crossings.

Abinanti first introduced the bill after the 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 Commerce Street in Valhalla. Earlier coverage by Daily Voice can be found by clicking here.

There have been no physical changes to the Valhalla crossing site after the crash that killed motorist Ellen Brody of Edgemont and five commuters.

Laset week, Federal Railroad Administration 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.”

Abinanti, who represents Valhalla, said “the FRA Administrator has made improving railroad crossing safety a top priority – now it’s time for the State Legislature to do the same. We have to be proactive in determining where there are safety issues that need immediate attention.”

During the 2015 legislative session, Abinanti's bill passed the Assembly. State Sen. David Carlucc of New City, a Democrat representing parts of Rockland and Westchester counties, sponsored a similar bill int eh Senate.

i (D-New City) sponsors the bill in the Senate. In a letter recently sent to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Abinanti requested that money be put in the state budget to fund a DOT study on how best to improve safety at rail crossings.

“Drivers shouldn’t be playing a game of chance whenever they approach a railroad crossing,” Abinanti said. “A comprehensive evaluation of these often-dangerous crossings will go a long way in protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers.”

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