New York state has been awarded $5.2 million in federal funds for rail crossing upgrades and closed-circuit TV cameras for investigations.
U.S. Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-Westchester/Rockland, who secured the $5.2 million in Federal Railroad Administration grants, said the funds will help prevent tragedies like the February 2015 Metro-North crash in Valhalla in which six people were killed, including Ellen Brody, whose SUV was struck by a Metro-North train in the deadliest crash in Metro-North's history.
“We cannot allow one more preventable tragedy at a rail crossing in our region,” said Lowey. “The heartbreaking Metro-North crash in Valhalla and too many near misses since remind us that we must continue to work to protect families at dangerous railroad crossings throughout the Lower Hudson Valley. I’m pleased these grants will help officials at all levels of government work together to ensure our communities are safe and secure.”
The grants will be paid out in three sections for different projects.
The first $1.3 million grant will be used to add highway traffic signal pre-emption to seven grade crossings on Metro-North’s Harlem and Port Jervis Lines to activate the traffic signals at the intersections and allow queued traffic to exit onto the highway prior to the activation of the railroad grade crossing warning systems.
As part of the second project, $1.9 million in upgrades will be made to three grade crossings to mitigate hazardous conditions between highway and rail traffic. The roadway, pavement markings, and signage at a heavily used grade crossing in North White Plains will be improved.
Finally, the third grant will provide $1.9 million to install CCTV cameras to record grade crossing movements at 43 grade crossings within Metro‐North territory in New York, including the Commerce Street crossing in Valhalla, to investigate specific incidents and analyze crossing/traffic operations for targeted modifications to improve safety at grade crossings.
The grants are part of the Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grants program, a new funding opportunity that Lowey secured in the fiscal year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act.