The state plans to install vehicle gates at the Long Ridge Road railroad/highway at-grade crossing in Redding where two young people lost their lives when the car they were in was struck by a train on Dec. 30, 2012.
Judd Everhart, director of communications for the state Department of Transportation (DOT), said the gates will be installed at the existing railroad crossing under on ongoing signalization project — the implementation of Centralized Train Control (CTC) on the Danbury Branch of the Metro-North Commuter Railroad. The project is currently in construction. He anticipates that the new gates will be installed and operational by April 30, 2013.
Originally, the railroad gates were to be installed under a local railroad/highway project that included the relocation of the railroad crossing and the realignment of the intersection of Long Ridge Road, Side Cut Road and Simpaug Turnpike. However, environmental and right-of-way issues will delay construction until late 2014, Mr. Everhart said.
DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker said that his agency reviewed the projects and agreed that the gates could be installed without further delay as part of the signalization project, even though it will mean relocating them at a later date.
A preliminary investigation of the incident showed that the existing warning lights at the crossing were flashing when the car drove across the tracks at Long Ridge Road that afternoon, Mr. Everhart said.
“I am glad that the DOT is willing and able to install gates now while the road alignment project continues to move forward,” said First Selectman Natalie Ketcham. “Both will provide important safety enhancements at the rail crossing.”
“We thank Commissioner Redeker for his response to our concerns and are pleased he took our input seriously,” said Senator Toni Boucher (R-26), whose district includes part of Redding. “An agreed-upon resolution to put in a temporary gate will secure this crossing in the interim, while the other on-going projects take form. Once all of these measures are finished, a permanent gate will ultimately make things safer for the commuting public.”
“We want to make sure that what happened on Dec. 30 does not happen again,” said Senator Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury. “This announcement is a step in the right direction to improve safety for drivers in greater Danbury.”
“I would like to thank the DOT for taking swift action in installing these gates within months of the tragic Dec. 30 accident,” said Rep. Dan Carter (R-2), who represents this portion of Redding. “It’s critical that we ensure safety within our communities and provide peace of mind to area commuters. I’m pleased we’re able to implement a concrete, effective solution to prevent such a heartbreaking tragedy from occurring again.”