At Caltrain, safety is always a top priority and this Friday, June 10, the rail agency will partner with Operation Lifesaver to participate in International Level Crossing Awareness Day.
California Operation Lifesaver identified the Broadway crossing in Burlingame as one to focus on during the awareness day. CAOL is a nonprofit public safety organization committed to reducing the number of tragic incidents at highway-rail grade crossing intersections and trespassing at railroad rights-of-way.
In fall 2015, Caltrain experienced a spike in train collisions with vehicles along the rail corridor, but particularly in the city of Burlingame. Within a two-week timeframe, there were two vehicle strikes at Broadway and one at Bayswater Avenue. Even after visible improvements were made to the crossing, there was still another train/vehicle collision at Broadway in March 2016.
On June 10, Caltrain’s dedicated Transit Police force, along with the Burlingame Police Department, will carry out enforcement and education duties during the peak commute hours. There will be two teams of deputies on each side of the tracks from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., and then again from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. There are also plans to have two portable electronic visual message signs on each side of the track for motorists and pedestrians to view that read, “Be safe. Stay off the tracks.”
The sudden rise in train versus vehicle collisions in Burlingame has been hard to pinpoint, but there have been a number of contributing factors to consider, such as heavy traffic congestion during commute hours, drivers who are not familiar with the crossings in that city, and major construction activity from the Highway 101 Broadway Interchange Project.
Since those incidents occurred last fall, Caltrain has taken several preventative measures to improve rail safety in Burlingame, which include:
- Stepping up law enforcement patrols at the Broadway and Bayswater grade crossings. The Transit Police and the Burlingame Police Department worked together last fall to educate drivers on the importance of not stopping their cars on the railroad tracks. Drivers should be stopped about 12 feet from tracks to remain at a safe distance;
- Painting the pavement so that there are fresh markings to alert drivers to “Keep Clear” so they know not to stop their vehicles on the tracks;
- Adding “bumps” or pavement markers at Broadway to show drivers that the grade crossing is not an intersection. The reflective markers define the edge of the roadway from the tracks; and
- Working with Caltrans to adjust the light sequence to improve traffic flow on Broadway.
About Caltrain: Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with limited commute service to Gilroy. Caltrain has enjoyed five years of consecutive monthly ridership increases, surpassing more than 60,000 average weekday riders earlier this year. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad celebrated 150 years of continuous passenger service in 2014. Planning for the next 150 years of Peninsula rail service, Caltrain is on pace to electrify the corridor, reduce diesel emissions by 97 percent by 2040 and add more service to more stations.