Representative Nita Lowey

Representing the 17th District of New York

Lowey Announces Actions to Prevent Further Grade Crossing Accidents like Metro-North Crash in Valhalla

February 6, 2015
Press Release

Education campaigns, exploring new technologies, increased funding for grade crossing safety improvements among Lowey actions

VALHALLA, NY– Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (Westchester/Rockland), the Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, today will join other federal officials at the site of the Metro-North commuter train collision in Valhalla, NY, where she will outline actions she is taking to help prevent tragic grade crossing accidents in the future.

Lowey is calling on the federal government to bolster education and enforcement campaigns, which have proven to be successful. Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit that receives a small level of federal assistance for offering free rail safety education programs. Since it began in 1972, the number of collisions between trains and motor vehicles has decreased by 83 percent. She believes more must be done. Approximately every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train. Lowey wants to ensure that all drivers know what to do if they find themselves in the situation that Ellen Brody did when the gate came down behind her car.

Lowey has already been in contact with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in the days following the Valhalla accident about immediately boosting public education campaigns so people know what to do in these situations.

On Wednesday, February 4, 2015, Lowey spoke with NTSB Board Member Robert Sumwalt about exploring investments in new technologies to detect objects on tracks that might have been able to prevent an accident like this.

These efforts build upon Lowey’s previous work on rail safety. As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, she:

  • Inserted language in the 2014 spending bill requiring the Federal Railroad Administration to evaluate Metro-North’s operations;
  • Secured $10 million in the 2015 spending bill for grade crossing safety improvements on high-risk routes; and
  • In December, encouraged preliminary federal approval of MTA’s application for $967 million in assistance to install positive train control technology.

Lowey will be looking for areas to increase funding for measures that help prevent grade crossing accidents.

Lowey led a moment of silenceon Wednesday with her New York colleagues on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to honor those who lost their lives in this tragic accident, offer sincere condolences to the families of the victims, pray for the full recovery of those injured, and thank our first responders for quickly arriving at the scene to help others.

Immediately following the tragic accident the evening of Tuesday, February 3, 2015, Lowey said, “My thoughts are with the victims of this horrible accident, I offer my deep condolences to their families, and I pray for the recovery of those who were injured tonight. I thank our first responders and have been in contact with the Federal Railroad Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, which quickly deployed to the scene.”