01.17.18

SCHUMER: EVEN AFTER D&C EXPOSE OF RAILROAD CROSSING GATE, SCHUMER REVEALS NEW 9-1-1 DATA THAT SHOWS SCOTTSVILLE ROAD GATES CONTINUE TO MALFUNCTION; SENATOR URGES CSX TO PRIORITIZE AND SUSTAIN MAINTENANCE TO PREVENT SNOW/ICE BUILDUP CAUSING GATES TO MALFUNCTION

Democrat & Chronicle Report Revealed That Many Railroad Crossing Gates in the Region Are Malfunctioning – Including the Scottsville Road Gate and South Winton Road Gate, Where 2004 Accident Cost 2 Lives 

Senator Says CSX Has Not Done Enough To Protect Vital Crossings From Snow And Ice Buildup; Urges CSX To Upgrade System In Light Of Recent Gate Malfunctions 

Schumer To CSX: Fix and Maintain Rochester-Finger Lakes Rail Crossing Gates That Are Tragedies Waiting to Happen

Today, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer urged CSX to take immediate action and allocate appropriate resources to prevent further railroad gate malfunctions at crossing points in Monroe County and across the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region. Schumer’s office has learned of new reports of railroad gate malfunctions at several crossings including many in the Rochester region. With more severe weather expected this winter, it is critical that CSX immediately deploy adequate resources to remove the ice, snow, and debris build up that prevents the proper draining of the railroad track bed and can cause the safety gates to malfunction. Schumer added that CSX must devote additional resources now in order to protect residents and others who go through these rail crossing every day.

“These malfunctioning rail gates in the Rochester-Finger Lakes area are tragedies waiting to happen and CSX needs to do a better job – and quickly – to regularly remove the snow and ice now causing them to malfunction,” said Senator Schumer. “These gates and signals are meant to protect residents, not condition motorists to disregard and drive around because it is assumed they are not functioning properly. That is why I am strongly urging CSX to immediately send more resources to the area to make sure the gates are operating as designed.”

Schumer added, “Kudos to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle l for raising the alarm bells here.”

False warning gate activations have delayed motorists at several thoroughfares across Monroe County and took crews over an hour to fix in some instances, tying up vehicular traffic.  Schumer added, despite media reports last week that highlighted the prevalence of these malfunctions, data from the Rochester Monroe County 911 Center obtained by Schumer’s office this week show these problems persist.  Specifically, the 911 Center recorded a report on January 14th, two days following the media reports, that the Scottsville Road gates malfunctioned again for a total of four malfunctions since January 1st.  Moreover one of the gates that malfunctioned this month, at South Winton Road, was the same site where two motorists were struck and killed by a CSX train in the winter of 2004 after CSX had deactivated the automatic safety gates because of a work-crew backlog that had delayed routine snow removal and maintenance upkeep needed to keep the warning gates functioning properly.  Schumer pointed to both the Scottsville Road and South Winton Road crossings in also calling for CSX to specifically investigate the signaling equipment at crossings that have repeated malfunctions.

In addition, beyond the need for routine maintenance this winter season, the continued malfunction of the South Winton Road gate underscores that these gate malfunctions are not isolated events but speak to a larger need to invest in infrastructure.  Specifically, data from the Monroe County 9-1-1 Emergency Center reveals similar incidents in 2015 and 2016.  Schumer said CSX should evaluate opportunities to upgrade the existing safety gate system to make warning gate activation system less vulnerable to malfunctions due to cold weather conditions.

A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to CSX appears below:

Dear Mr. Foote:

In light of recent reports of railroad gate malfunctions at several crossings in the Rochester region, I request CSX take immediate action and devote adequate work crews and resources to prevent the ongoing malfunction of railroad safety gate warning systems by addressing ponding water, snow and ice buildup that can cause safety gates to activate even though there is no train approaching.  These false warning gate activations have delayed motorists at several thoroughfares across Monroe County and crews took over an hour to fix in some instances, further tying up vehicular traffic.  Despite media reports last week that highlighted the prevalence of these malfunctions, data from the Rochester Monroe County 911 Center obtained this week show these problems are persisting.  Specifically, the 911 Center recorded a report on January 14th, two days following the media reports, that the Scottsville Road gates malfunctioned again for a total of four malfunctions since January 1st.  More concerning, one of the gates that malfunctioned this month, at South Winton Road, was the same site where two motorists were struck and killed by a CSX train in the winter of 2004 after CSX had deactivated the automatic safety gates because of a work-crew backlog that had delayed routine snow removal and maintenance upkeep needed to keep the warning gates functioning properly. 

With more severe winter weather expected this season, it is critical that you immediately deploy adequate resources to maintain these crossing and prevent the ice, snow, and debris build-up that can cause the safety gates to malfunction.  In particular, I request you specifically investigate the signaling equipment at crossings that have repeated malfunction, including the Scottsville Road crossing and the South Winton Road Crossing.  In addition, beyond the need for routine maintenance this winter season, the continued malfunction of the Scottsville Road and South Winton Road gate underscores that these gate malfunctions are not isolated events.  Data from the Monroe County 9-1-1 Emergency Center reveals similar incidents in 2015 and 2016.  As such, I request you evaluate opportunities to upgrade the existing safety gate system to make warning gate activation system less vulnerable to malfunctions due to cold weather conditions.

I appreciate your attention to this request that will help ensure the safety and efficiency of drivers and trains in the Rochester region. Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact my staff.

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer

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