The Van Buren railroad crossing has been a concern for many who travel Van Buren Road on a regular basis.
Congressman Brian Higgins has now gotten involved and announced on Tuesday in Dunkirk that he will be asking the Federal Rail-road Administration to step in and investigate.
"We are here today to announce that we are calling on the Federal Railroad Administration to investigate repeated problems at this crossing," Higgins said.
Higgins addresses railroad crossing concerns
"For some time now malfunctions associated with the equipment associated with the making this crossing safe have been leading to dangerous uncertainties for those who cross these tracks" Higgins said.
Higgins was joined be the family of those who lost their lives on the tracks in October of 2009.
Robin Putnam-Cordovano lost her son, Zachary, in this incident that claimed three lives where the barriers were down because a train had stopped near the crossing and there appeared to be no train and several cars crossed the tracks before the car her son was in was hit by a train coming in the opposite direction after doing the same. She has since been monitoring the barriers malfunction and has tried contacting CSX who owns the railroad but to no avail.
OBSERVER Photo by Matt Panebianco
Pictured are Congressman Brian Higgins (far right) with the family of the late Zachary Nydahl, who lost his life at the Van Buren railroad crossing in 2009. Zachary’s mother, Robin Putnam-Cordovano (right), has been monitoring the malfunctions of the barriers at the crossing ever since.
"Robin has monitored the repeated dangerous situations that have put those in this community and those who travel through it at risk. She has taken her concerns to the railroad companies but this situation has yet to be addressed. That's why we have decided to take this one step further ... Robin's persistence and courage to put aside her personal pain and put forward purpose is both remarkable and inspiring. Her fight in memory of her son is a selfless service to families today ... and we are in this fight with her to prevent future tragedies," Higgins explained.
She explained the barriers send confusing signals to drivers when they go up and down repeatedly, stay down when there is no train or stay up when there is. She also pointed out that the foliage this time of year makes it hard to see if a train is coming or not.
"We need to make an awareness and stop this before someone else dies at this crossing ... It's very disconcerting because I travel this route two to six times a day and I've caught many other situations that have occurred here," She said.
Putnam-Cordovano has also recorded incidents of the barriers malfunctioning, which will be brought as evidence to the FRA.
"The Federal Railroad Administration is responsible for holding the rail companies responsible for upgrading the track infrastructure and all of the signaling that is supposed to make the track bed and the crossing safe for the public ... I think what you see is that replacing track infrastructure is very, very expensive, be it the track bed itself or the mechanicals, but that is no excuse for companies for these companies not to do it especially when they are putting in danger the traveling public in and around this track bed and rail crossing," Higgins said.
Putnam-Cordovano made a video of the malfunctioning barriers which will be presented to the FRA and can be downloaded for viewing at http://bit.ly/q2tJsB.