Five different agencies will review New Mexico Rail Runner Express crossings and gather input from the Federal Railroad Administration safety experts "to make sure that the highest appropriate level or safety is being provided at the crossings," train officials announced today.
The extra scrutiny comes on the heels of two fatal accidents since April where bicyclists in Santa Fe crossed the path of the train.
Meanwhile, the trains will move slower over the crossings, where there will be flaggers "regularly stationed" to warn of incoming trains.
"One option we've considered was sounding the train horns through these crossings," says Dewey V Cave, executive director for the Rio Metro Regional Transit District in a prepared statement. "However, we decided to utilize slower speeds and flaggers so that we uphold the commitment we've made to the residents and business-owners of Santa Fe to maintain quiet operations through the area."
The Rio Metro Regional Transit District, the Federal Railroad Administration, the New Mexico Department of Transportation, the Public Regulation Commission and the City of Santa Fe will collaborate in the safety review.
Meanwhile, Santa Fe could be one step closer to an additional train stop. The Transportation Department has issued a letter to the city saying that it's "willing to open Zia Station" as a Rail Runner stop as long as the site complies with a number of conditions including construction of a chain link fence around the station to prohibit "uncontrolled pedestrian access to the station;" the installation of "No Parking/No Stopping" sings along St. Francis Drive southbound south of Zia Road to prohibit parking for dropping commuters off; and the extension of electric power to the passenger boarding platform and station, with the city or developer responsible for paying for powering the platform.
SF Brown Inc., is a partner in Zia Station LLC, which owns the land where the train station has sat unused for years.
A spokeswoman for the New Mexico Department of Transportation says the agency sent the city the letter on May 8 and has yet to receive a response.