LIRR Gap Fixes May Get Funding From U.S. Rail Safety Act

The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) has been facing a growing gap problem over the last few years. The issue really came to the forefront when Minnesota teen Natalie Smead died after falling into a gap & being run over by another LIRR train. As we later found out, alcohol & her disobedient actions of ignoring the call to stay still until played a big role in her death.

Newsday has been by far & away the main media outlet to rally for the LIRR to address the gap issues which are prevalent at many of their stations. With this outcry for repairs has come a battle between some who feel the paper sensationalized the issue as the gaps have been there for decades. They feel basic common sense of watching where you walk is the right plan of action. While others feel it is a legitimate safety concern which should be addressed by spending millions to fix each gap.

If you happen to be on the side of wanting the gapes fixed, you will be happy to know that a federal grant program could help fund such fixes. Steve Ritea of the aforementioned Newsday filed this report:

A federal grant program that could help the Long Island Rail Road fund part of its $46-million effort to close dangerous gaps at some station platforms is headed to President George W. Bush for final approval.

The program, part of the Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007, allows freight and passenger railroads nationwide to compete for $7.5 million aimed at funding safety improvements annually through 2013, said a spokesman for Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who sponsored the program.

The wide-ranging $1.1 billion package, approved by the Senate late Friday night after passing the House in the spring, also includes new standards for rail safety and tougher fines for violations by freight rail companies.

Click here to read the complete report.

I can see some aspects of the points raised by those who support the common sense approach. I’ve ridden the Long Island Rail Road for years & have never once come close to slipping or falling into the gap in any shape or form. However I can see the other side of it as to why it should be fixed. While I have had no incidents to speak of, I can see how others might have. Some of the gaps I’ve seen are quite large in size where it would be easy for someone to take a bad step & get caught if not fall in the gap.

Lets hope the “W” does the right thing & approves this act. Any money used to fix a major issue while not coming out of the MTA’s pockets is a win-win situation for everyone.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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