KATONAH, N.Y. -- Standing just feet away from a busy railroad grade crossing in downtown Katonah, local officials from across northern Westchester gathered Monday to voice support for state legislation that would allow municipalities to install traffic cameras at grade crossings.
State Sen. Terrence Murphy, whose district includes the site of February's deadly grade-crossing collision in Valhalla, stressed the public-safety link to the legislation.
“It is our duty as elected officials to protect our community, and if this simple little thing – along with teaming up with our local leaders – is going to save lives, then it is our obligation to do it, and that’s what we’re here to do today.”
Violators caught with cameras would have tickets mailed to them, it was noted.
Murphy credited New Castle Supervisor Rob Greenstein with the idea.
“I did suggest this legislation to Senator Murphy and he ran with it,” Greenstein said, adding that the legislation passed the state senate 63-0.
The next step is for companion legislation to pass the state assembly.
During the press conference, Greenstein was asked where the idea came up. He replied that he researched the topic and noticed that cameras are only allowed at traditional traffic lights and for speeding.
Greenstein also noted that New Castle lost three community members in the Valhalla collision. Daily Voice previously reported that two of the train passengers killed lived in town, while the driver of the vehicle hit by the train worked at a local jewelry store.
A busy grade crossing in Chappaqua, which is located by the Saw Mill River Parkway and Horace Greeley High School, has come under particular scrutiny in recent months. Elected officials gathered near it to push for federal funding legislation to make such locations safer, while the crossing has had several close calls, including a vehicle that broke through a gate and a school bus that went over.
Mount Pleasant Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi noted that his town has four grade crossings; one of those is the crossing in Valhalla.
“Whatever we can do to either close or create safer grade crossings throughout the area is, is very much welcome, especially in the town of Mount Pleasant," he said.
Bedford Councilmen Francis Corcoran and Don Scott were also on hand to voice support for the legislation. In Corcoran's case, in it was in his capacity as a member of Metro-North's advisory council for commuters.
Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace noted that while his town does not have grade crossings, his constituents take the trains. He called the proposal for cameras "very important legislation" to pass.