LIRR crossing safety initiative completed five months ahead of schedule

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A train pulls into the Mineola Long Island Rail Road station. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

All 296 Long Island Rail Road crossings have received safety enhancements five months ahead of schedule, the railroad announced Monday.

The enhancements, first announced by LIRR President Phillip Eng in May, include flexible, four-feet-high reflective delineators on the crossings, as well as extended roadway markings and additional reflective devices to alert drivers about the crossings in an effort to keep them from accidentally driving onto the tracks. 

As part of the safety initiative, in June the LIRR announced a partnership with the GPS app Waze to alert motorists if they are approaching a LIRR crossing.

Two of the crossings improved include Mineola’s Willis Avenue crossing and New Hyde Park’s New Hyde Park Road crossing.

In March, a woman drove onto the Willis Avenue crossing when she was misled by her GPS. She escaped her vehicle, but it damaged the tracks and caused hours of delays.

This is not an uncommon incident.

There were 29 reported incidents in 2017 of cars on the tracks, according to the LIRR. There were also 17 grade crossing accidents in 2017.

Additionally, through May 22 of this year there were 21 reports of cars on tracks and two grade crossing accidents.

The initiative appears to be limiting the number of cars on the tracks, Eng said in a LIRR news release.

Since the initiative began, there have been three incidents of cars on tracks; two of those were at locations where the delineators had not yet been installed.

In the third incident, a driver “experienced a medical emergency, which inadvertently caused the car to enter the railroad’s right-of-way,” according to the release. 

“Keeping our customers and our employees safe is at the forefront of our minds in everything that we do at the Long Island Rail Road,” Eng said in the release. “We are consistently implementing innovative approaches – both high-tech and low-tech – to enhance safety, including when it comes to those locations where motorists may encounter our railroad crossings.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Klar by email at rklar@theislandnow.com, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 204, or follow her on Twitter @rebeccaklar_.

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