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Evans City won't seek train safety signal

April 30, 2013 News Extra

HARRISBURG — Despite Friday's fatal accident on the railroad track at Maple Avenue in Evans City, it does not appear that lights and a crossing gate will be added there.

Jennifer Kocher, a state Public Utilities Commission spokesperson, on Tuesday explained that for a safety signal to be installed at a crossing, the railroad, the municipality where it is located, or the state Department of Transportation must request the change from the PUC. She said the PUC also can initiate changes at a crossing.

Kocher said in determining the apparatus or sign to be installed at a crossing, PUC officials look at prior accidents, whether the commission has received complaints about close call accidents at the crossing, and the number of vehicles that cross the tracks in a given amount of time.

“At (the Maple Avenue crossing,) there have been no other accidents and no complaints,” Kocher said.

“And two trains a day, on average, go through Evans City.”

She said costs for installing flashing red lights and a gate at the Maple Avenue crossing would be $1 million to $1.5 million.

Costs for safety measures are paid in part or wholly by the entity requesting the changes, Kocher said.

Kim Armstrong, president of Evans City Borough Council, said she doubts that council will ask for lights and a gate at Maple Avenue because of Friday's crash, which resulted in the death of Callery resident Claudette Miller, 91, and injuries to 10 other passengers of a BART bus that was hit by a 29-car train.

Finding $1 million or more to install additional safety apparatus at the small Maple Avenue crossing would be extremely hard for the borough, which struggles with balancing its budget each year.

“At this time, I can't see us doing that,” Armstrong said.