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Warnerville rail crossing blocked by signal malfunction

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
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— Technical malfunctions affecting railroad crossing safety gear in Warnerville this week have been repaired, a railroad spokesman said Tuesday.

Residents phoned the Schoharie County Sheriff’s Department on Sunday and again Monday after finding the safety gates down and lights flashing with no train in the vicinity.

A similar malfunction happened about three years ago, according to Cobleskill town Supervisor Thomas Murray, who works near the crossing.

CP Rail tracks crosses Warnerville Cutoff, or County Road 23A, roughly a half-mile north of state Route 7 in the town of Richmondville.

CP Rail spokesman Andy Cummings said Tuesday technicians went to the scene after the situation was reported.

“In both cases, the crews were able to make repairs,” he said. “CP regrets any inconvenience this may have caused for motorists.”

Cummings said the safety equipment is programmed to activate the gates any time a defect is detected. He was unsure how old the equipment is.

Warnerville Cutoff is seen as a shortcut to get to state Route 10 while avoiding the village of Cobleskill, especially for trucks that want to avoid the sharp turn off Route 7 in the village, Murray said.

“It’s a quick, easy access to the Thruway and Canajoharie,” he said.

He was unaware of the recent incidents at the crossing, but added, “Two or three years ago, it was happening quite a bit.”

Murray, whose auto sales business is situated just off Warnerville Cutoff, said the most recent complaint he’s heard from residents is that the crossing is bumpy.

Though the gates’ malfunctioning can be inconvenient, it could also be dangerous. Murray said if people get used to the gates being down and flashing lights activated, eventually “you go right around it.”

Cummings said people should never do that.

“It’s not safe behavior,” he warned. “It’s never safe to drive around down crossing gates.”

Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond said a deputy went to the scene and found that train crews were stopping for blocked traffic and opening the gates and letting traffic through before moving the trains along.

“I hope it’s fixed. People get up there and they try to get around the gates,” he said.

Years ago, the crossing had just lights and the gates were added later, he said.

A search on the website of the Federal Railroad Administration shows no train accidents involving CP Rail in Schoharie County over the past decade.

 
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