May 28, 2013 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
On 11 different occasions from January through May 21, the railroad crossing signal in the village of Liverpool has malfunctioned causing the traffic light at Heid’s Corner to hold a steady red stop-signal against southbound traffic on Oswego Street.
The uninterrupted red light causes traffic to back up into the village and local police must step in to direct traffic.
While the problem has occurred at various times of the day and night, it is particularly troubling when it happens during morning and evening rush hours.
The steady red also affects northbound traffic from Old Liverpool Road and prevents vehicles heading north on Route 370 from making a right turn onto Old Liverpool Road.
Liverpool Police Chief Don Morris sent an email May 22 to crossing owner CSX, the Class 1 Railroad which runs freight trains up and down the East Coast.
“The railroad crossing… repeatedly malfunctions causing severe traffic issues that affect public safety,” Morris wrote. “I am requesting that CSX examine this crossing and determine why it is malfunctioning at this frequency.”
Morris himself responded to the scene during a recent evening rush hour. “It was ridiculous,” he said.
In his email to CSX, the chief pointed out that Heid’s Corner “is one of the busiest intersections in Onondaga County,” so the malfunctioning signal could lead to accidents and injuries.
According to recent traffic counts provided by the state Department of Transportation and the Syracuse Metropolitan Traffic Council, Old Liverpool Road at Railroad Street sees an average of 12,600 vehicles daily, some 27,400 pass over Route 370 every day and 20,915 vehicles drive through the Route 57-Oswego Street fork, a block northwest of Heid’s Corner.
“These malfunctions are creating a risk of injury to motorists, pedestrians and the police officers who are directing traffic due to the malfunctions,” Morris wrote. “This malfunction also impedes emergency response in this area.”
But for now, a primary concern is the amount of time police officers must spend responding to the situation. “It ties up our officers for hours,” Morris said.
“On [Tuesday] May 21, the LPD had two officers out of service for two hours and 37 minutes due to the malfunctioning railroad crossing and the inability of CSX to respond in a timely manner,” Morris informed CSX. “This is unacceptable.”
Since the problem began, LPD personnel have spent 471 minutes – 7.85 hours – directing traffic at the scene. “It’s certainly not the best use of police resources,” said LPD Sgt. Mike Manns, who directed traffic at 11:40 p.m. May 21 along with Officer Jerry Unger.
When there are too few LPD officers available, Onondaga Sheriff’s deputies are called in to assist at the crossing.
Last year, CSX informed village trustees that it planned to make repairs at the crossing which would necessitate the closing of Old Liverpool Road for a few days, but that work has yet to be scheduled.