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Questions over safety

September 29, 2009

Re "Death on the rails," Sept. 27

I read your articles with interest and compassion. I am confident that I am not the only reader to inquire about a special report on death on our highways and roads. Are there such things?

And how do those numbers compare with these tragic deaths over 15 years that your investigation has uncovered?

Are there any errors in the systems set up by our local, state and federal transportation departments? Any possible lack of safety systems that contribute to those deaths?

Laine Mervis

Los Angeles

--

My wife and I cross the Buena Vista intersection in Burbank multiple times a week, and we had no idea that it was the site of so many accidents.

I appreciated Burbank's willingness to speak openly with The Times about the issue, what steps have been taken to correct it, what alternatives have been analyzed and what obstacles remain. It was a stark contrast to Metrolink's failure to provide substantive comment.

Burbank should finish its efforts to fill the gap. I work in Pasadena and can attest to the effectiveness of the illuminated "No Turn" signs near the Gold Line. They do get a driver's attention.

Eric Anderson

Burbank

::

Thank you for this article. Several times, while getting gas at a station near Buena Vista, I have watched a speeding train come much too close to this crossing before the lights started flashing and the gate arms came down -- with not nearly enough time for a car already turning onto Buena Vista to avoid either the gate or the train.

Ellen Butterfield

Studio City

::

There seems to be a certain hysteria when it comes to trains. People demand gates, barriers, lights and signs -- and yet every day they are perfectly content to deal with thousands of metallic missiles on rubber wheels, unconstrained by fixed tracks and subject to many more distracting influences.

We are capable of crossing intersections with multiple lanes of traffic coming from several different directions, but some will drive around or through a barrier, as Jacek Wysocki and Maureen Osborn did, and then be on the front page.

It is sad when anyone is killed in a traffic accident, but are the Metrolink crossings where we need to focus our attention?

If you took all pedestrian, bicycle, car, bus and train accidents in L.A., where are the greatest number of accidents?

Ian McIlvaine

Venice

::

Your article was long on rhetoric and data but short on reporting progress on a crucial national matter -- improving the safety of a rail system that is shared by freight trains, Amtrak and commuter trains.

Railroad safety is a shared responsibility of regulatory agencies, railroad owners and operators and the local jurisdictions with streets that cross tracks. Numerous safety measures have been completed or are underway.

Earlier this year, Metrolink adopted the nation's most advanced rail-crossing design standards. Funding is being sought from the economic stimulus program to improve 40 crossings and to enhance pedestrian and bicyclist safety near five stations.

Metrolink is disappointed that The Times failed to show the progress made daily to improve the safety of the regional rail system. Perhaps the story will remind every pedestrian and driver to take responsibility near railroad tracks, and to encourage the acceleration of dedicated funding to address public safety.

Keith Millhouse

Los Angeles

The writer is the chairman of the board of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink).

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