DANBURY, Conn. -- Construction work has begun in an effort to resolve problems on Metro-North's Danbury Branch with crossing gates that close when no train is approaching, the Connecticut Department of Transportation announced.
Construction work began Friday, March 21, on two street-level railroad crossings where the problem is occurring, DOT said in a statement.
The first crossing to be addressed is on East Liberty Street in Danbury. The work began at 10 a.m. and will continue through 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, and will require a traffic detour. East Liberty Street will be excavated on each side of the crossing and the entire crossing will be replaced.
The next crossing to be addressed will be at South Street in Bethel, currently scheduled to begin Friday, March 28.
This work may identify the possible contributing factors to the grade crossing problem in recent weeks with the new technology implemented at certain crossings in late 2013 as part of the Danbury Signalization Project.
The issues cause grade-crossing gates and lights to activate on some occasions when no train is in the area. Metro-North and DOT are working with the signal- project contractor to determine the cause or causes of the crossing issues and to develop technical solutions. A number of strategies are being devised and tested, including the reconstruction work.
Since the issues were identified, trains have been operating on a “stop and warn” system, requiring the train to stop before each crossing and warn motorists that a train is coming through. This practice has reduced train speeds and affected service.
Metro-North has been providing off-peak and weekend busing for Danbury Branch customers since March 1, when a temporary schedule was put in place.
On the Danbury Branch, the trains are pulled or pushed by diesel engines. They make many grade crossings along its 23.9-mile route. The Danbury Branch has stops at Danbury, Bethel, West Redding, Branchville, Cannondale, Wilton, Merritt 7 and South Norwalk.
Read more about the signal problems here on the Daily Voice.