50 motorists cited for rail crossing violations
Metrolink workers repair a broken railroad crossing arm at the tracks on Doran St. and San Fernando Road in Glendale on Friday, June 17, 2011. The arm was broken after 6 a.m. (Raul Roa/Staff photographer)
Metrolink, Union Pacific and Glendale police conducted the enforcement campaign Thursday and Friday at the rail for crossings at Chevy Chase Drive, Doran Street and Brazil Street because of the large number of vehicles that travel through the intersections to enter the San Fernando industrial corridor.
“We are just trying to educate people that it can ultimately be a very unsafe activity,” Metrolink spokeswoman Sherita Coffelt said.
The rail agency has deemed Doran Street to be among the most dangerous because of its proximity to a propane storage facility and the traffic gridlock that can back onto the railroad tracks.
The potential for disaster at the Doran Street crossing was evident early Friday morning when a motorist struck a pair of crossing arms in an effort to beat an approaching train, Coffelt said. The crossing arms were repaired that same morning, but the driver fled the scene.
To reduce the likelihood of collisions, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority voted last month to spend $6.6 million for safety upgrades at the Doran rail crossing. But the decision to upgrade the crossing ultimately rests with the California Public Utilities Commission, whose staff has recommended closing it down.
Los Angeles, where the industrial park is located, and other business owners have fought the closure of the Doran Street rail crossing, arguing it would constrain emergency responses to the area and impede the flow of business. Glendale has sought to close it, citing neighborhood opposition and the danger posed by the propane facility.
Police cited 19 motorists from 7 to 9 a.m. Friday. On Thursday, 31 citation were issued from 4 to 7 p.m. for failing to yield at flashing crossing gates and for stopping on the railroad tracks.
Most citations resulted from traffic gridlock, Glendale Police Sgt. Dennis Smith said.
Another 14 motorists escaped nearly being cited due to officer safety concerns. Two vehicles were also impounded for additional violations.
“Sometimes they are not paying attention,” said Steve Smith, an “Operation Lifesaver” liaison with Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies assigned to the Metrolink patrol. “Sometimes they don’t realize that they are on the tracks.”