(Palo Alto, California – April 18, 2011)
A volunteer watchdog group, “Track Watch”, says the Friday evening rush hour death of an Indiana woman at the Charleston Road railroad crossing with Caltrain tracks was “an accident waiting to happen.” Judith Goldblatt’s rental car became trapped on the railroad crossing due to heavy traffic. She died when her vehicle was struck by a Caltrain commuter passenger train carrying as many as 400 passengers around 5:00 P.M. Her husband escaped from the passenger seat as the train bore down upon the Indianapolis, Indiana couple who were in Palo Alto to visit family.
“Some (Track Watch) volunteers and others in the community have suggested that traffic lights at the Charleston Road, East Meadow and Churchill crossings should be added to the west side of the tracks,” wrote Reporter Sue Dremann in Palo Alto Online. “Eastbound drivers get caught on the tracks when the light changes.” The group members blame recent changes made as part of the $5.8 million Caltrain safety-improvement project as well as the city’s street-resurfacing project for reducing the buffer between railroad tracks and parallel streets, as well as reducing the volume of warning-signal bells.
Track Watch volunteers have chronicled numerous situations where vehicles were placed in peril of being hit by trains, but which did not result in accidents. According to volunteer Grace Pariente the entire scenario “really was an accident waiting to happen.”