Authorities target Glendale and Los Angeles scofflaws in illegal rail-crossing crackdown
While officers waited near this location during “Operation Clear Track,” a truck sped up to get past the railroad crossing arms before they dropped as a Metrolink train approached during its morning commute at Doran Street and San Fernando Rd. in Glendale/Los Angeles on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. A press conference for Rail Safety Month was being held nearby. The driver, who did not want to give his name, was given a ticket by an L.A. County Sheriff deputy who was stationed nearby.(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)
A Metrolink Police officer takes a man into custody after being caught walking the railroad tracks during “Operation Clear Track,” north of Doran St. and San Fernando Rd. in Glendale on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. A press conference for Rail Safety Month was being held nearby.(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)
Vehicles wait patiently as a Metrolink train passes by during “Operation Clear Track” at Doran St. and San Fernando Rd. in Glendale on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. A press conference for Rail Safety Month was being held nearby.(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)
The driver of a truck that sped up to get across the railroad crossing arms as they dropped before a Metrolink train approached is given a ticket at Doran St. and San Fernando Rd.(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)
With fellow government and city officials by his side, Glendale Mayor Vartan Gharpetian speaks during a “Operation Clear Track” press conference at Doran St. and San Fernando Rd. in Glendale on Sept. 26, 2017. The press conference was held for Rail Safety Month. From left are California State Sen. Anthony Portantino, Southern California Regional Rail Authority CEO Art Leahy, Gharpetian, and Metrolink Board of Directors second vice chair and Glendale councilmember, Ara Najarian.(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)
Hoping to curb dangerous behavior, deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, along with Glendale police officers, spent Tuesday morning cracking down on pedestrians and drivers who illegally crossed railroad tracks.
The enforcement effort, called Operation Clear Track, was organized, in part, by Metrolink and specifically targeted rail crossings along San Fernando Road at Doran, Branford and Sheldon streets, which were chosen because of their histories involving people crossing them illegally, resulting in tragic consequences, rail agency officials said.
Since 2011, two fatalities have occurred at the Doran crossing, three vehicles were hit at Branford and one pedestrian was struck by a train at Sheldon, according to Metrolink.
Glendale Councilman Ara Najarian, who sits on Metrolink’s board of directors as second vice-chair, said the operation wasn’t about punishing people; it was about raising awareness.
“We want all residents, whether you’re driving, walking or riding, to pay attention to the [train] signals,” he said. “We want you to be safe. We want the passengers of the train to be safe.”
Operation Clear Track is part of a larger, nationwide campaign spearheaded by the nonprofit Operation Lifesaver, which named September as Rail Safety Month. The group works to help raise awareness about railroad safety with the goal of reducing collisions and fatalities that result from illegally crossing tracks.
Sarah Logan, assistant coordinator for the California chapter of Lifesaver, said a person or vehicle is struck by a train in the United States every three hours.
She also said California is ranked No. 1 in fatalities and injuries of people who trespass onto train tracks and No. 2 in incidents involving railroad crossings.
“These statistics are numbers we are working to change,” she said.
Capt. Karl Schow with the sheriff’s Metrolink bureau said three citations were issued Tuesday morning to vehicles attempting to illegally cross railroad tracks — including a work truck that drove through an intersection while the crossing gates were coming down.
Authorities also detained a man who was caught walking along the train tracks.
Schow said it’s important for pedestrians and motorists to know that railroad tracks are “a very dangerous place to be” and they must be aware of the laws when crossing.
“It’s also important that, when the arms go down, you have to stop,” he said. “It is just a dangerous proposition to try and cross those tracks.”
In addition to Tuesday’s enforcement, Schow said authorities will continue to conduct rail-crossing enforcement operations throughout the month and plan to do at least one operation every month for the rest of the year.