QUEENS, NY ‒ U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Queens) and Nydia M. Velazquez (D-Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan) yesterday sent a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) urging an inspection of the highway-rail crossings in Maspeth after crossing signals failed to activate at the intersection of 56th Street and Flushing Avenue.
"The Federal Railroad Administration must immediately send an inspector to investigate the highway-rail crossings in Maspeth after this dangerous incident," said Rep. Meng. "There is a history of crossing gate and signal malfunctions in the Maspeth community, and the FRA must investigate these issues with all due haste. I thank Councilman Robert Holden for bringing this incident to my attention and Congresswoman Velazquez for joining me in this effort."
"It's deeply concerning that a train would go through this intersection without any crossing signals activating, leaving no warning for pedestrians or motorists," said Rep. Velazquez. "Maspeth is a significant hub for rail traffic and we need to ensure that the Federal Railroad Administration carefully examines all the rail crossings in this community, before an accident occurs, so residents can feel safe walking about or driving in their own neighborhood."
At 3:45pm on Sunday afternoon, Christina Wilkinson, President of Citizens for a Better Maspeth, was walking down Flushing Avenue when a train crossed the intersection of 56th Street and Flushing Avenue without the crossing signals activating or any rail personnel stopping traffic at the intersection. She reported this incident to Councilman Holden. The intersection does not contain crossing gates, making operational crossing signals essential for the safety of pedestrians and drivers in the area. This incident follows gate and signal malfunctions at the Maspeth Avenue and Rust Street crossing only a few blocks away.
A copy of the letter can be found here. Text of the correspondence is included below.
February 12, 2018
Mr. Juan D. Reyes III
Acting Deputy Administrator
Federal Railroad Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Acting Deputy Administrator Reyes:
We write to express our grave concern about the safety of highway-rail crossings in the Maspeth neighborhood of Queens, New York. In particular, we write to request an inspection of the crossing signals located at the intersection of 56th Street and Flushing Avenue in Maspeth.
New York City Council Member Robert Holden relayed to us that Christina Wilkinson, the President of Citizens for a Better Maspeth, was walking down Flushing Avenue at 3:45pm yesterday afternoon when a train crossed the intersection of 56th Street and Flushing Avenue without the crossing signals activating or any rail personnel stopping traffic at the intersection. Ms. Wilkerson's experience is extremely concerning given the absence of crossing gates at the intersection, as well as the recent history of gate and signal malfunctions at Maspeth Avenue and Rust Street only a few blocks away.
Respectfully, we request that a Federal Railroad Administration Signal and Train Control Inspector inspect the highway-rail crossings in the Maspeth community immediately. We also ask that you relay the inspector's findings to us as quickly as possible. We thank you for your attention to this matter, and eagerly await your response.
Nydia Velazquez Grace Meng
Members of Congress