Mary MuellerJul 31, 2017, 3:53 pmJul 31, 2017, 8:04 pm

Local lawmakers say NYSDOT, governor dragging feet on bill to make rail crossings safer

DOT did not produce study to determine what upgrades are needed by April deadline

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Local lawmakers say the New York State Department of Transportation hasn't produced a study aimed at saving lives at rail crossings.

The study was previously due on April 1. And now, lawmakers want answers.

Assemblyman Tom Abinanti and State Senator David Carlucci say the state DOT and the governor are dragging their feet on their bill passed last year to make rail crossings safer.

The study would help determine what upgrades need to be put in place at rail crossings to prevent deadly crashes.

Carlucci, who represents Westchester and Rockland counties, says some crossings haven't been upgraded for nearly 50 years and need better signage and gates.

"We don't have a plan, we don't have a study, and we are not engineers, we are asking the experts, we are asking the experts at the Department of Transportation to do their job," said Carlucci.

After multiple calls to the NYSDOT, lawmakers say they aren't being told why the study is late. The agency is only saying that they are working on it.

Lawmakers don't want to see a repeat of 2015 when Edgemont mother Ellen Brody’s SUV got caught on the tracks in Valhalla and was hit by a Metro-North train. Six people including the woman were killed.

The victim’s husband Alan Brody stood with lawmakers near where the accident happened to advocate for the study to be completed.

"It's not a matter of technology. There is plenty of technology out there. It's about the will. They could fix this very quickly; I think we have shown this with a bunch of teenagers in a matter of weeks, months. So I am here because I don't want this to happen to your wife, I don't want this to happen to your loved ones," said Brody.

Carlucci says the federal government is dedicating more than $1.5 billion to upgrading rails crossings across the country.

But without this study, the state can't apply for funding. And Carlucci doesn't want to see the cost to upgrade rail crossings fall on taxpayers.

Lawmakers didn't say if the Commerce Street rail crossing in Valhalla will need to be closed but the study will help them learn more going forward.

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