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Governor Signs Railroad Safety Bill Sponsored By Westchester Legislator

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation beefing up rules for rail crossings like this one at Commerce Street in Valhalla.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation beefing up rules for rail crossings like this one at Commerce Street in Valhalla. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- Nearly two years after a train crash in Valhalla resulted in six deaths, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation sponsored by Assemblyman David Buchwald, D-Westchester, and Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Monroe County, to implement more stringent safety measures at grade-level railroad crossings on Monday.

The new law implements more joint inspections of signals at railroad crossings, aligns state requirements with federal regulations on railroad bridge inspections and increases penalties against railroad companies that do not comply with the regulations and drivers who commit railroad crossing violations.

The law comes in the wake of the deadly Feb. 3, 2015, train crash that occurred when an SUV pulled onto the tracks at a Metro-North Railroad grade crossing in Valhalla.

In addition to the six people killed in the accident, 15 others were injured.

“Too often, New Yorkers have experienced tragedies at grade-level railroad crossings,” said Buchwald. “I want to thank Gov. Cuomo for signing this legislation into law to provide greater safety, efficiency and modernization at our railroad crossings. This law and new safety measures are a result of cooperation between the state Legislature, the governor, our municipal governments, and the New York state Department of Transportation.”

Randolph Glucksman, Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council chair, praised Buchwald for taking up the issues surrounding the legislation.

“The safety of our riders and motorists depends upon drivers obeying effective and well-maintained traffic signals and grade crossing warning systems,” Glucksman said. “We thank Assemblyman David Buchwald for his efforts to ensure that traffic signals coordinated with grade crossing signals are in good working order and that laws requiring compliance with grade crossing signals are effectively enforced.”

In 2014, over 250 deaths were related to railroad crossing collisions across the country.

Many New Yorkers use railroad crossings or rely on trains on a daily basis.

“I want to thank Gov. Cuomo and Assemblyman Buchwald for implementing new railroad safety measures for Westchester and all of New York State,” said Srinivasan Selvaraj, a resident of Chappaqua. “My family had a scary incident involving the malfunction of the boom barrier on Metro North’s Harlem line near the intersection of the Saw Mill River Parkway and Roaring Brook Road in Chappaqua. It is comforting to know that steps are being taken to put in place better monitoring of railroad crossings.”

The new law goes fully into effect Thursday.

To read a Daily Voice story on the crash in Valhalla, click here.

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