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Petition to Get Warning Signs Placed at Train Crossings Already Has 112 Signatures

Report and Photo by Paula Antolini

Bethel resident Hallie Kerrigan has formed a petition on change.org asking that warning signs be placed on either side of the train tracks on Greenwood Avenue in Bethel, to warn oncoming cars that the crossing gates are not working, and to fix the train crossing signal. 

The petition states, "Fix the crossing signal on Greenwood Avenue and in the meantime put up signs notifying residents that the signal isn't working and to proceed with caution. Cars have no indication that a train is coming. Bethel police have been notified as of November 2013. But it needs to be fixed. The police watch sometimes but not enough.

In only a few days the petition has received 112 signatures, so far.

Kerrigan said, "I decided to start this petition because I was almost hit by a train. I am married with an eight year old and a three year old. We were all in the car. We had no indication that a train was coming and pulled up to the tracks on Greenwood and stopped because I happened to see the train. We were the first car there. The train did come to a complete stop but it was still so scary.  I talked to the Bethel Police Department and went down the the station and filled a report out.

The incident Kerrigan mentioned happened in the past week and she filed the police report on February 11th, 2014, at the Bethel Police Department, she said.  "I was received really well at the police department. I called them and they asked me to come down and give a statement."

Hallie Kerrigan has lived in Bethel for 6 years and her husband Michael Kerrigan grew up in Bethel, she said.

Kerrigan also said, "I started the petition because of the Facebook chatter."  This petition was created after much chat from numerous local residents was observed on social media from those who have had negative personal experiences crossing the Greenwood Avenue tracks. This regards safety hazards when gates were up, and/or vehicles on roads that were stopped, or cars going around those stopped vehicles (not knowing why they were stopped) and being blindsided by a train suddenly in their vision, along with the shock of seeing a train a few feet from them on the tracks, as they are already driving over the tracks. 

The Facebook chats and community buzz about this topic are still ongoing.  There is much continuing concern about the safety hazard of the crossing gates and signals not working properly.  It is hoped that new warning signage will at least relieve the hazardous road problem while the railroad system is bring worked on by MTA/Metro-North.

Hallie has lived in Bethel for 6 years and her husband Michael Kerrigan grew up in Bethel, she said.

To view and sign the petition go to the website here:
http://www.change.org/petitions/bethel-ct-mta-fix-the-crossing-signal-on-greenwood-avenue#share


Val February 17, 2014 at 08:23 AM
Busses always stop before they cross the tracks......maybe cars should start stopping as well? Thank you for letting me know the signals are not working properly. I was wondering why there was a train going really slow through Greenwood Ave.! I do know there is a sign that says 'No stopping on tracks' and I can't tell you the number of times that people stop on the tracks anyways! They ignore that sign!
Paula Antolini February 17, 2014 at 09:04 AM
Val yes cars ARE stopping before the tracks (the ones that REALIZE a TRAIN is inching towards the crossing or stopping, that is) but the problem is that then NEXT cars that come along do not necessarily SEE a car is stopped, and if they are not paying attention closely (and are not used to a car stopped in the middle of Greenwood) it could cause a collision. OR they are then going AROUND that stopped car, and come upon the stopped train suddenly (with shock), a train previously blocked from view but the car or van or truck in front of them. So now they find themselves crossing the track in front of the train because there were no gates down or signal lights. People are horrified to find themselves in this position. THEN they think about school buses that their children travel on each day across those tracks, and even THOUGH bus drivers are required to stop, the thought of no warning signals and gates is so dangerous nonetheless. One solution is WARNING SIGNS on the roadsides, warning vehicle drivers to proceed with caution, telling them gates are not working properly. At least that might prevent car pile-ups or people crossing tracks going around other vehicles etc. Even First Selectman Knickerbocker said he had the same shocking experience of suddenly seeing the train there as he went around anther vehicle and crossed the tracks! (See my other train-related stories on my blog for full update of hat he said, and also Mayor Boughton of Danbury.) They both feel the MTA should provide the signs.
David Drazul February 17, 2014 at 05:12 PM
So it's been three months and nothing has been done? This is ridiculous. The tracks run through the heart of the town and hundreds of cards cross those tracks every day. Does Metro-North really want to risk a collision?
Paula Antolini February 17, 2014 at 08:10 PM
David Drazul ... this is why I have been covering this story since November, please see my latest update posted tonight, which includes links to all the stories: http://bethel.patch.com/groups/paula-antolinis-blog/p/the-voice-of-the-people-there-are-now-200-signatures-on-the-petition-to-get-warning-signs-at-train-crossings-7th-update_f4379d5a
David Drazul February 17, 2014 at 08:37 PM
Petition signed and links forwarded on to several friends and family.
Paula Antolini February 17, 2014 at 09:45 PM
Thanks so much David. Keep watching for updates. i HOPE to be able to report some positive news asap.
Ken Darrah February 18, 2014 at 10:16 AM
Just yesterday I was surprised to see a train about 75ft up the tracks and coming towards me as I crossed by the Agway. Now, the train wasn't moving fast and it didn't come very close, but it was a VERY startling view. I can easily see someone slamming on the brakes or reacting in a way to cause an accident. These crossings need to be fixed, pronto.
Paula Antolini February 18, 2014 at 01:30 PM
Ken Darrah, you train tracks experience and concern is similar to other residents. We are hoping to have a public meeting with town officials soon, I will post all update info. asap.
Outside Looking In February 18, 2014 at 01:49 PM
Why are you trying to have a meeting with town officials? Why don't you get a meeting with metro-north?
Paula Antolini February 18, 2014 at 06:30 PM
Outside looking in, fill yourself in on all the stories first, check the links at the bottom of the page for more facts here: http://bethel.patch.com/groups/announcements/p/the-voice-of-the-people-there-are-now-227-signatures-on-the-petition-to-get-warning-signs-at-train-crossings-7th-update First you have to gather all the facts and get responses from the community, individuals/officials, MTA/Metro-North, DOT, Police, etc. which I have done (see more stories to come too.) WE give people a chance to fix the hazards or notify them of same if they are not aware. This was done. The situation has now escalated and people want answers. We are trying to get the answers. It is a process, and even IF urgent, if officials do not see it that way then there is always plan B :-). Stay tuned.
Bethel Observer February 19, 2014 at 01:45 PM
This morning, at about 10:27 am, I was approaching the RR crossing on SOuth Street, in front of Agway, and I heard the train blowing its whistle. Looking to my right, I saw th train approaching, slowly, still blowing its whistle. However, the lights and the gates were not activated. I stopped prior to the tracks and waited for the train to pass through, and at the last minute the gates came down and the red flashing lights came on. This is the first time anything like this had ever happened to me. Until today I was skeptical such things happened, but now I know better. While the train itself was moving slowly and I had my eye on it, the possibility of something bad occurring was there had I not been attentive.
Paula Antolini February 19, 2014 at 02:31 PM
Thanks so much for your last post Bethel Observer. I have encountered so many stories like yours now, it's absurdly dangerous. Had you not been paying attention for a few seconds the outcome would have been tragic. So far, we know the MTA/Metro-North has this huge railroad renovation/repair project going on, with no set completion date, that has now snowballed into nightmare commuter problems (adding 30 minutes each way, with all the stops at crossings, I hear) and schedule delays too, according to some passenger accounts, but NOW it is also causing road traffic problems that the MTA/Metro-North and DOT and town officials are not addressing at all and/or immediately, as this is an urgent situation. Residents are calling for at LEAST some traffic warning signs on either side of the tracks on all crossings where gates and signals are malfunctioning (which concerns much or all of the Danbury line) and so far everyone in a position to provide that is saying it is someone else's job to do that, so this is where we are at. Understand not all malfunctions residents witness are reported to police or MTA so there are a lot more malfunctions occurrng TOO often. Warning signs are a solution, at least to warn people of the failing gates/signals... but now that has become an issue of whose responsibility that is... (and I have talked to many sources, will talk to more) .....we will get to the bottom of this.

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