(Gaithersburg, Maryland – August 6, 2011)
Looking for answers to an epidemic of railroad-related pedestrian deaths, CSX Railroad, the Maryland Transit Administration, MARC and Gaithersburg, MD city officials will meet next month to discuss better safety efforts.
Three pedestrians have died thus far this year after four were killed in 2010, and a total of 15 have died since 2006. In February of this year, 81-year-0ld James T. Clemons of Gaithersburg was hit by one MARC passenger commuter train as he tried to board another at the Summit Avenue station in Olde Towne. Shortly thereafter, City officials met with CSX to discuss safety at the station, and also sent a letter to MTA requesting safety improvements. MTA, in turn, referred all questions regarding safety at stations to CSX.
Warren Flateau, spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration, feels the solution lies in utilizing Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit, railroad and public-funded organization “that provides public education programs to prevent collisions, injuries and fatalities along rail tracks and crossings.”
Maryland Operation Lifesaver representative Dick Ratcliffe said that “the organization receives funding from the Federal Railroad Administration,” but that no Gaithersburg officials had contacted him since about a year ago when he spoke to a community group about safety at the tracks. The city taped the event and has played it on its Community Access TV channel.
Meanwhile, CSX Railroad Representative Robert T. Sullivan pledged that “In the future, police will be at the Gaithersburg station talking to people about safety. CSX has provided the police with safety materials from Operation Lifesaver in Spanish and English, and has offered to assist in the educational effort.”