CSX to repair rail signals in Hampstead


CSX Transportation Inc. will repair the warning signals at the Route 30 railroad crossing near the south end of Hampstead by Nov. 29, more than two weeks after a traffic accident damaged a signal pole and knocked the crossing's red flashing lights out of service.

In the meantime, all CSX crews have been operating under a "stop and flag" order, meaning that all trains stop before crossing Route 30 and deploy a flagman to halt traffic, said Kathy Burns, a CSX spokeswoman.

The warning devices were damaged Nov. 12. Kenneth F. Russell, chief of the Hampstead Police Department, said town officers have since tried to be in the area of the crossing to assist with traffic safety whenever trains pass through.

Hampstead officials have fretted over the damaged crossing lights because northbound traffic backs up about a quarter-mile from the traffic signal on Route 30 at the Roberts Field Shopping Center during the afternoon rush hour, and some drivers stop on the tracks.

A CSX freight train crosses Route 30 about 4 p.m. daily.

The repairs are necessary because one of the two poles supporting the flashing signals was broken off and the electric power line to it was severed.

At the railroad crossing, where there have been five fatal accidents in the past seven years, the flashing signals are to be upgraded to a fully activated gate crossing with overhead lights, bells and signals, town officials said.

John Healy, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration, said the cost of upgrading the crossing signals has not been determined.

Chief Russell said he had received complaints from train crews about drivers' too often ignoring the flashing signals and venturing across the tracks in front of trains.

"CSX officials said cars were so close as they crossed the tracks that crewmen were able to copy the license tag numbers," the chief said.

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