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Railroad crossing problem causing traffic headaches - UPDATED

A malfunctioning railroad signal at the railroad intersection near State Road 11 and Jonathan Moore Pike in Columbus is causing headaches for drivers.

Mayor Kristen Brown said the railroad arm has been coming down sporadically. On Wednesday morning, the arm was down for about 15 minutes, backing up traffic.

Brown said this is the seventh time the arm has dropped. The most recent time before today was June 23rd.

"I escalated the issue to the president of the L&I railroad, myself," Brown said. "He indicated that it was a software programming issue and assured me that it wouldn't happen again. But, unfortunately, it already happened again this morning. I have already spoken to him again this morning."

"Obviously this is a major inconvenience for motorists as well as a public safety issue for us."

When the problem occurs, Columbus police officers have to lift the gate by hand to allow motorists access, Brown said.

The mayor said she was told by railroad officials that a malfunctioning circuit board caused the problem and a new one is on order. It is expected to be here on Monday.

Mayor Brown says that she spoke with railroad officials again on Wednesday afternoon. She says that L&I has decided to deactivate the gates until the new circuit board arrives. This decision means that trains are operating under a "stop and flag" procedure. This means that trains will stop before reaching the intersection. The train's conducter will step out and stop traffic. The train will then inch slowly into the crossing before resuming regular speed.

Brown noted that the railroad company decided to do this out of an abundance of caution for commuters, walkers and bicyclists. She said that L&I leadership wants motorists to respect the signals and not grow accustomed to seeing barriers go up with no train present. As a result, motorists can expect longer delays than normal.

Mayor Brown says there are three trains per day, and a fourth on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. She adds that from now on, if you see railroad gates down, expect a train.

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 02, 2014 6:52:59 PM

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