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Video: Revisiting Crossing Year After Deadly Metro-North Train Crash

A northbound Metro-North train passes across Commerce Street in Valhalla on Wednesday evening, the first anniversary of the deadliest crash in the commuter railroad's history. This view is looking west from the Taconic State Parkway.
A northbound Metro-North train passes across Commerce Street in Valhalla on Wednesday evening, the first anniversary of the deadliest crash in the commuter railroad's history. This view is looking west from the Taconic State Parkway. Video Credit: Jon Craig
Commerce Street's railroad crossing -- facing toward the Taconic State Parkway -- as it looked on Wednesday evening just before a northbound train passed on the anniversary of Metro-North's deadliest train crash. A police cruiser is on the right.
Commerce Street's railroad crossing -- facing toward the Taconic State Parkway -- as it looked on Wednesday evening just before a northbound train passed on the anniversary of Metro-North's deadliest train crash. A police cruiser is on the right. Video Credit: Jon Craig
Commerce Street's railroad crossing in Valhalla -- facing toward the Taconic State Parkway -- as it looked on Wednesday evening, the first anniversary of Metro-North's deadliest train accident.
Commerce Street's railroad crossing in Valhalla -- facing toward the Taconic State Parkway -- as it looked on Wednesday evening, the first anniversary of Metro-North's deadliest train accident. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Commerce Street's railroad crossing in Valhalla -- facing toward the Taconic State Parkway -- as it looked on Wednesday evening, the first anniversary of Metro-North's deadliest train accident.
Commerce Street's railroad crossing in Valhalla -- facing toward the Taconic State Parkway -- as it looked on Wednesday evening, the first anniversary of Metro-North's deadliest train accident. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

VALHALLA, N.Y. -- Last year it was traffic gridlock and some icing conditions. On Wednesday evening, motorists encountered steady rain, fog and darkness.

On Feb. 3, 2015, Ellen Brody, 49, of Edgemont attempted to cross railroad tracks at Commerce Street in Valhalla only to collide with a northbound commuter train. She and five passengers were killed, making it the deadliest accident in Metro-North history.

On Wednesday, a Daily Voice reporter shot video at the same location. Television crews and a police cruiser also looked on just after sundown. Street crossings on the cemetery side of the tracks, for cars headed toward the Taconic State Parkway, are barely visible. The angled street makes it difficult to see if one's in the proper lane even without the stop-and-go traffic that Brody encountered following a separate Taconic crash a year ago.

Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner, who knows the Brody family, said, "An easy immediate action that Metro-North and other rail lines could take would be to place large billboards at every crossing with warnings of the dangers of the crossings. Large billboards could provide motorists with an extra warning --- and encourage people to be more aware of the dangers."

On Wednesday, the train's warning whistle was audible far away as it approached Valhalla. The horn cold not be heard at Commerce Street until the final seconds, just before it passed. There are no bells, but only lights on the crossing gates, at Commerce Street.

Feiner suggested "another idea is a public address warning when the train is scheduled to arrive plus the technological features they have in other countries like Japan."

"I think helpful information would be how much time there is between when you hear the bells, when the gate comes down, and when the train will actually be there," Feiner said.

"Has anyone ever considered putting cameras at the crossings with feeds into the trains so engineers could see potential problems ahead at the crossings?" Feiner asked. "I think that Metro-North should implement a rule for train engineers to go slower as they approach their crossings."

Finally, Feiner suggested installing up-to-date LED lights at all railroad crossings.

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