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Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg joined U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and other local officials in Chappaqua, N.Y., yesterday to highlight the need for stronger efforts to improve safety at grade crossings.The officials visited an MTA Metro-North Railroad crossing at Roaring Brook Road in Chappaqua, the scene of a near-accident earlier this week, as a van on the tracks broke through the rail gate to avoid a collision as a train approached.Lowey invited Feinberg to see firsthand "how dangerous these crossings are," Lowey said in a press release."With more than 250,000 public and private grade crossings around the country, we must tackle this important safety challenge with a multi-faceted approach," Lowey said. "As ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will be fighting to protect and increase funding for rail crossing safety initiatives."
Crossing incidents are a leading cause of rail-related deaths and injuries, and the FRA has asked local law enforcement agencies to increase their presence at crossings to enforce traffic laws.
"After calling for their help, local law enforcement agencies have beefed up their presence at crossings and are rigorously enforcing traffic laws," Feinberg said in a prepared statement. "We are grateful for their response. We are doing and will continue to do everything we possibly can to keep drivers, pedestrians, and train crews and passengers safe at grade crossings."
Additionally, Lowey said she and Feinberg discussed a proposed high-profile public awareness campaign that would build on the FRA's enhanced enforcement efforts. The campaign would be similar to "Click it or Ticket" campaigns that encourage drivers to wear seat belts.
Also joining Lowey and Feinberg at yesterday's event were Metro-North's President Joseph Giulietti and Chief Safety Officer Anne Kirsch.
In New York, concern over grade crossing safety has intensified since the Feb. 3 collision between a Metro-North train and an SUV at a crossing in Valhalla, N.Y., resulted in six fatalities.
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