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Railroad Crossing Safety Bill Awaits Governor's Approval

State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti and Sen. David Carlucci held a news conference last Friday at the Commerce Street railroad crossing in Valhalla, site of the deadliest accident in Metro-North history. They are with Alan Brody, whose wife was killed.
State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti and Sen. David Carlucci held a news conference last Friday at the Commerce Street railroad crossing in Valhalla, site of the deadliest accident in Metro-North history. They are with Alan Brody, whose wife was killed. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

VALHALLA, N.Y. -- The state Senate has passed bill S.3458B, which would require the Department of Transportation to conduct a comprehensive statewide study of level grade rail crossings, Sen. David Carlucci, D-Westchester/Rockland, has announced.

The bill, which the state Assembly passed in March, stems from the collision of a Metro-North commuter train with an SUV at a highway-railroad grade crossing at the Commerce Street crossing in Valhalla on Feb. 3, 2015.

The crash, the deadliest in the railroad’s history, killed six people and injured dozens more.

In the aftermath of the incident, renewed focus was given to the safety of rail grade crossings throughout New York state.

Last week, Carlucci joined Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, D-Greenburgh/Mount Pleasant, and Alan Brody of Edgemont, husband of Valhalla crash victim Ellen Brody, at the site of the crash to call on the Senate to pass the legislation.

Rail grade crossing safety has also become a top priority at the national level. On Feb. 17, Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Sarah Feinberg sent a letter to state departments of transportation across the country 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.”

Carlucci expressed satisfaction that the new legislation will help address such issues.

“In the aftermath of the Valhalla crash, many wondered what needed to be done to prevent another tragedy,” he said. “With the passage of this bill, the Department of Transportation now has the tools to undertake a comprehensive study of rail grade crossings throughout the state to ensure problem crossings are improved or, if necessary, removed.”

Abinanti praised Carlucci’s efforts and called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill into law.

“The Assembly and Senate have recognized the importance of having experts evaluate the state’s rail crossings. I expect that the governor will continue prioritizing safer rail crossings by immediately signing this legislation. It would be a shame if these efforts were delayed,” he said.

To read the Daily Voice story on Carlucci and Abinanti's visit to the crash site, click here.

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