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Railroad Gates Malfunction Half-Mile From Fatal Crossing In Valhalla

A Metropolitan Transportation Authority police car blocked Lakeview Avenue in Valhalla on Wednesday after crossing gates got stuck in the down position. They were working by 3 p.m. Flares were used to detour cars from the other side of the tracks.
A Metropolitan Transportation Authority police car blocked Lakeview Avenue in Valhalla on Wednesday after crossing gates got stuck in the down position. They were working by 3 p.m. Flares were used to detour cars from the other side of the tracks. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
State Department of Transportation vehicles near the Commerce Street railroad crossing next to the Taconic State Parkway on Wednesday afternoon.
State Department of Transportation vehicles near the Commerce Street railroad crossing next to the Taconic State Parkway on Wednesday afternoon. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

VALHALLA, N.Y. -- Commuter railroad crossing gates malfunctioned Wednesday at Lakeview Avenue in Valhalla, about a half-mile south of last month's deadliest crash in Metro-North's history.

An MTA police officer observed the crossing gates were continuously in the down position at around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, and as a result, traffic on Lakeview Avenue near the Taconic State Parkway was getting backed up, according to Aaron Donovan, a Metro-North spokesman.

"We issued a directive to engineers to stop their trains before the crossing and ensure that there were no cars on the tracks before proceeding,'' Donovan said Wednesday afternoon. "This was cleared up at 3 p.m.  Everything is back to normal now."

It marked at least the third hazardous condition at a Metro-North railroad crossing since the Feb. 3 accident involving an SUV driven by Ellen Brody of Edgemont.

Brody, 49, had a crossing gate come down on the rear of her Mercedes SUV, but pulled forward into the path of a northbound train at Commerce Street, also in Valhalla, one block north of Lakeview Avenue.

Brody's collision resulted in an explosion and damage to the third rail, which pierced the first two cars of the train, killing five male passengers from Westchester and Danbury, Conn.

On March 7, a driver from Mount Kisco had to back up after a crossing gate came down on her PT Cruiser, breaking the gate. But she was able to move her car safely away from the railroad tracks just before a northbound train crossed Roaring Brook Road in Chappaqua. Cynthia Parent, 67, was ticketed for blocking the crossing.

On Feb. 24, a police officer in Connecticut cleared a car from the path of a Metro-North train in Norwalk, Conn. That motorist also temporarily became stuck between crossing gates.

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