WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — Congress could vote as soon as Tuesday on a bill that would provide billions of dollars to make railroad crossings safer.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) said the change should not require another disaster.

“The accident in Valhalla should be a wake up for all of us,” Maloney said.

The funding in the bill would help local communities to replace grade crossings with underpasses or overpasses. Maloney has been pushing for a $300 million annual grant program where the federal government will pick up 90 percent of the cost.

“We need to take steps so that cars are never in between those gates when they come down,” Maloney said.

Maloney said in the past few years, more than a dozen people have been killed in grade-crossing accidents in New York state alone. The federal money could also be used for technology upgrades to stop trains automatically when something is on the tracks.

On Feb. 3 in Valhalla, a Metro-North Harlem Line train crashed into a sport-utility vehicle that was sitting on the tracks.

The crash sparked an explosion and fire that burned out the first car of the train and sent pieces of third rail stabbing through the passenger area. Ellen Brody, the woman driving the SUV, and five men on the train, were killed.

On Tuesday afternoon, a Long Island Rail Road train struck a sport-utility vehicle at a grade crossing in East Rockaway. The driver survived the crash and was taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside with neck and back injuries, but service was suspended for some time after the accident.


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