For those who have been hoping to see Brightline make safety improvements at its “quiet zone” crossings following several accidents, only a partial solution is in sight, or sound.
According to The Palm Beach Post, the new high-speed passenger train system is planning to make upgrades at 60 of its 80 Palm Beach County crossings, in an attempt to prevent drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians from getting around the warning gates and trying to beat the trains, since trains are not required to blow their horns at all crossings. The move follows multiple incidents, including fatalities, which have occurred on the tracks since the service began.
The current plan is for less than half of the crossings to get quad gates, considered the most restrictive safety barrier as they block all lanes on both sides of the tracks. Twenty other crossings are set to receive curbed-concrete medians, and a dozen will have both of these safety features. However, six crossings, including one in Boynton Beach where a woman was hit and killed by a Brightline train, will not get any safety upgrades, while another 14 will have only blocked sidewalks.
The planned changes are part of a $7 million plan for quiet zone improvements along the tracks. Before its trains began rolling, Brightline invested more than $60 million to make safety improvements to the FEC corridor that it uses throughout South Florida. The upgrades, which included a signal system that communicates with trains and controls gates and train-crossing times, were made at every one of Palm Beach County’s crossings. Additionally, Palm Beach County’s Transportation Planning Agency agreed to cover the $7 million cost for the quiet zone project.
The trains travel at an average 79 miles per hour, or twice the speed of freight trains. Brightline currently has stops in downtown West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, with plans in the works for stops in downtown Miami and Orlando.
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