Railroad looking into crossing gate errors

Published 8:36 pm Monday, March 1, 2021

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The railroad crossing gates on North Main Street have faced technical problems on multiple occasions within the last couple of weeks.

Each time, the gate continued to block traffic by remaining down after the train passed.

The affected railroad crossing is located on North Main Street near Prentis Street and the Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum.

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According to city spokeswoman Diana Klink, the gate malfunctioned the evening of Feb. 24 and the morning of Feb. 26. Suffolk Police officers directed traffic around gates on the major thoroughfare for two hours each time.

According to the CSX Corporation, which owns this track, it will continue to monitor the North Main Street crossing to ensure that the equipment is functioning correctly. The gates operate in a fail-safe mode, much like a harness on a rollercoaster, meaning if an error is detected, the gates remain closed to ensure the safety of those on the road since it cannot detect if the train is gone and it is safe to cross.

“At CSX, safety is our highest priority, and we work to limit operational impacts on the communities we serve,” said Sheriee S. Bowman, media relations at CSX Transportation. “We apologize to motorists who experienced delays because of a crossing gate/signal malfunction at North Main Street in Suffolk. We regularly inspect the signal systems on our network to ensure that they are working properly.”

Bowman also gave an important reminder to always expect trains at crossings and that going around lowered gates is not only extremely dangerous but also illegal. When notified of the error, CSX dispatched signal maintainers immediately to complete the necessary repairs.

To report a crossing malfunction, call 1-800-232-0144, the number on the blue Emergency Notification Sign posted at every CSX crossing, and maintenance will dispatch as soon as possible.