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A big accident waiting to happen at rail crossings

June 17, 2011

A two-day enforcement sting this week at the Doran Street, Chevy Chase and Brazil/Broadway rail crossings in Glendale — which included one motorist literally driving through a set of arm guards — should serve as yet another wake-up call to officials: The safest way to deal with a dangerous crossing is to simply close it.

The Doran Street crossing in particular has been a point of contention between L.A. — which wants it open to maintain emergency response access to an industrial park — and Glendale, where officials argue that its proximity to a propane gas facility is a recipe for disaster.

Metrolink announced plans to spend $6.6 million on safety improvements to the crossing, but at the end of the day, there will still be an intersection where a train could potentially meet a vehicle. Consider that over the six-hour enforcement campaign, 50 citations were issued to motorists at the three Glendale crossings.

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At some point, it becomes impossible to not view the Doran crossing as a dangerous game of Russian roulette. Because odds are, eventually, one of those violations will be a collision with a train, which could send cars into the propane storage facility and cause destruction and death.

The California Public Utilities Commission will eventually have the final say over whether to close the crossing, which its staff has recommended, or go with Metrolink’s safety upgrades. But as a community, we have to ask ourselves: Is keeping the crossing open worth the risk? We say no.

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