FOR RELEASE: May 21, 2015
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River Bend RR Crossing Safety Improvements Completed

Safety improvements – including the installation of vehicular traffic gates and warning lights – have been completed at a private railroad crossing in the Springdale neighborhood of Stamford where there have been several accidents in recent years involving vehicles striking trains, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) announced today.

The River Bend crossing is on the New Canaan Branch of the New Haven commuter rail line, which is owned by CTDOT and operated by Metro-North. The crossing leads to River Bend Center, a 40-acre business park with 12 buildings.

The safety improvements include the installation of new flashing lights, and gates to block vehicular traffic when a train is going through. Some 41 trains use the crossing each day, operating at a maximum speed of 40 mph. Previously, the crossing had flashing warning lights and bells, but no gates.

“This is a great example of the state, the city and a private developer working together to enhance safety for motorists and railroad commuters,” said CTDOT Commissioner James P. Redeker. “Even though this crossing is privately owned, we listened to local concerns and agreed to take action.”

"These safety enhancements will help commuters travel safely and with peace of mind," said Senator Carlo Leone (D-Stamford). "Stamford residents identified the need for improvements in this area, and I am happy that we were able to get this project approved. The River Bend railroad crossing has been a challenging location for commuters, but the new warning lights and gates will help make that a thing of the past.”

"This is a great day for those who commute to the River Bend Center each day and for all of our residents. The safety of commuters is our top priority. I thank Senator Leone, the State DOT and River Bend Center Development for their cooperation and leadership in moving this forward," said Stamford Mayor David Martin.

The safety enhancement project began April 9, and the crossing was reopened on May 6.

Since 2005 there have been four separate collisions at the railroad crossing in which a train was struck by a vehicle.  In all four collisions, the motorists failed to obey the active warning devices and proceeded to enter into the crossing.

The cost of the improvements was $1.27 million, with the City paying $250,000, River Bend Center Development paying $350,000 and CTDOT paying the balance, or roughly half the total. After the work at the railroad crossing was performed, River Bend Center paved the road and installed the railroad related signing and pavement markings.  The City of Stamford ungraded the traffic control signal at the intersection of Hope Street and River Bend Drive South to include railroad pre-emption phasing, which will clear traffic on River Bend Drive South prior to the activation of the flashing lights and gates at the railroad crossing. 

As part of the project, Metro-North excavated the roadway on each side of the crossing to replace the existing rail, and installed a new rubber crossing surface.  During the road excavation, Metro-North also installed two underground duct banks, which were needed to run the electrical wiring for the new lights and vehicular gates.  The new duct banks will also allow for future upgrades of the New Canaan Branch without excavating the road again.