"I'm very pleased the governor has taken our call for better rail
safety seriously," Frommer said. "But our next step is securing
additional funds to do upgrades of rail crossings. The legislature,
which included some in my own party, took money out of the bill and I
intend to put it back in."
Frommer hopes to add back $25 million in part to help supply
cities with matching funds that will help them construct the grade
The issue was sparked by the Jan. 26 Metrolink wreck that killed
11 and injured nearly 200 others, which was caused by a Jeep parked
on the tracks. It also created a politically hot issue for the city
of Glendale which is grappling with the issue of what to do about the
rail crossing at Chevy Chase Drive where the crash occurred.
"That crossing is not in the top 20 in danger but it's a very busy
intersection and a point of entry for someone who not only entered
the tracks but drove his vehicle hundreds of yards down the tracks,"
said Frommer, the chairman of the Assembly's Special Committee on
Passenger Rail Safety.
The new legislation increases penalties for drivers who violate
rail crossing laws. It also makes it a crime for any person to
unlawfully or through gross negligence obstruct a railroad and cause
damage, derailment or injuries to passengers. In addition, violators
could be fined up to $2,500, nearly double the existing penalty.
The rail safety committee convened a meeting in July for a hearing
regarding the January train derailment in Glendale. The accident,
deemed the worst rail accident in the United States since 1999,
occurred when 26-year-old Juan Manuel Alvarez of Compton parked his
SUV on the tracks.
The issue is causing strife for residents in Atwater Village,
which sits on the Los Angeles side of the tracks, who believe the
suggested closure of the Chevy Chase crossing could lengthen their
local commutes and delay emergency responders.
"So it has become a political football and not many there are
happy," Frommer said. "But it all comes down to money so cities won't