(Brattleboro, Vermont – November 16, 2011)
Police and motorists are rapidly losing both patience as well as confidence in grade crossing signals in downtown Brattleboro, VT. Now appropriately nicknamed “Malfunction Junction” the intersection of Bridge Street and New England Central Railroad tracks has become a point of consternation for the community, as the devices unpredictably activate with no trains anywhere near the community.
Monday, for the third time in the last few weeks, the lights continually flashed and the crossing gates lowered, stymieing downtown traffic and forcing police to personally flag traffic through the crossing.
“It’s a huge problem for us,” complained Brattleboro Police Chief Gene Winn.
The line carries both Amtrak passenger trains as well as NECR (one of the large number of RailAmerica Corp.’s system of short line and regional railroads) freight trains. Particularly frustrating for local officials is the fact that the nearest key that can be used to override the system is 20 miles away in Bellows Falls, VT.
“That’s a long time to block traffic,” observed Chief Winn. “We are working with Amtrak to have a key locally.”
Meanwhile, the lack of signal integrity creates a dangerous guessing game at the crossing as motorists drive around gates assumed to be malfunctioning, hoping no train is coming.