Dangerous Longmeadow rail crossing may get signals/barrier gates

The crossing has been closed since the death of DPW foreman Warren Cowles

LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – Life-saving traffic signals and barriers could be coming to a Longmeadow rail crossing where 5 people have lost their lives over the last half century.

Longmeadow town leaders recently met with representatives of Amtrak, MassDOT, the State Department of Public Utilities and the Federal Railroad Administration.  The purpose of the meeting was to identify and expedite a process to have warning signals and/or barrier gates installed at the Birnie Road crossing.

Longmeadow DPW foreman Warren Cowles was killed at that crossing last winter when his town plow truck was struck by an Amtrak plow train.

Cowles’ death was the fifth at that location since the 1970s.  That part of Birnie Road has been closed since the day of the accident, which occurred during a snow storm, March 14th.

Longmeadow Town Manager Stephen Crane told 22News MassDOT will perform a ‘diagnostic evaluation’ of the crossing to determine the best way to ensure its safety.

Once the evaluation is completed, it will be submitted to Amtrak, which will then make a decision about installing warning lights or barrier gates that can block traffic as a train approaches.

According to Crane, Amtrak could, at that point, move forward with construction on its own, or be compelled by the state to build the proper safety structures and equipment.

Friday’s meeting was intended to get that process underway.