Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) President Phil Eng and officials of the LIRR were recently on hand at the Willis Avenue grade crossing in Mineola to show the improving safety features provided by the transportation system. Between June 2017 and May 2018, there were 21 car-on-the-track incidents at LIRR grade crossings.
“Unauthorized rail crossing is a serious safety concern,” State Senator Kevin Thomas, who represents the Sixth District, said. “With the rise of the GPS, many drivers were inadvertently driving onto the railroad tracks after misunderstanding their GPS directions, causing delays and risking lives. I commend the LIRR for quickly identifying the issue and working to implement effective solutions.”
The LIRR has recently partnered with Waze and Google to better identify rail crossings on their GPS systems and show them as hazards—all 296 LIRR grade crossings are now listed on Waze as hazards.
“I am pleased that our efforts to constantly implement and innovate our safety methods has had a dramatic effect on eliminating incidents at grade crossing,” Eng said. “While we can’t control driver behavior, we continue to be proactive and keep our trains moving safely. We have truly benefited from our partnership with Waze, and we are proud to pave the way for railroad across the country in using this collaborative technology.”
The LIRR has also installed flexible, four-feet high reflective delineators, as well as extended roadway marking and additional reflective devices to better alert drivers, who may be driving in darkness or inclement weather.
“Under the leadership of President Phil Eng, the LIRR has set a national standard for safety,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. “I commend the LIRR for their innovative leadership and new partnerships, which have dramatically improved safety and visibility for our motorists at historically dangerous railroad crossings.”
Between June 2017 and May 2018, there were 401 train delays due to cars inadvertently turning on tracks where delineators were already in place. By May 2019, that number has dropped to 57, resulting in 138 fewer delays for trains on the LIRR.
“The Long Island Rail Road’s delineator and Waze’s integration is a great example of how technology and innovation really work to make train travel safer for the people of Long Island,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. “I have been a proponent of investing in modernization across LIRR in order to improve safety, alleviate congestion and strengthen the future of Long Island’s economy.”
The Willis Avenue grade crossing will be replaced during the LIRR’s third-track project. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the ground breaking of the project in September 2018. The third track plan, which costs $2.6 billion, will have about 50 individual projects, will modernize almost 10 miles on the LIRR’s main line between Floral Park and Hicksville.