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New Track Construction Reminds Florida of Railroad Safety

Posted by Christopher Keller | May 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

Today marks the beginning of a major construction project for the railroad tracks along the Loxahatchee River Bridge. This project is part of the Virgin Trains expansion from West Palm Beach to Orlando. Construction is expected to last for about a year with an end goal of mid 2022 for completion. Citizens can expect to see an increase in work crews, heavy machinery, and moving cranes as they drive through this area. Drivers can expect continuous work being done between the hours of 7 AM and 7 PM every day. Road traffic and boat traffic will not be affected by the initial phase of construction, but drivers are cautioned to respect speed limits especially with the increase of workers physically on the roads. 

What is Virgin Trains and Brightline?

Virgin Trains USA is a privately owned passenger railroad system. It is sometimes referred to as Brightline, and it is brought to us by All Aboard Florida, which is a major overall connection that links Florida's infrastructure, real estate, and transportation. 

Virgin Trains currently connects travelers in Miami to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. There are plans to offer service to other areas like the Orlando International Airport. 

Is Virgin Trains Easy to Use?

Yes, you have online access to manage your reservations and check on the status of your train. Additionally, Virgin Trains offers discounts for students and packaged pricing. For example, you can purchase a travel pack of one-way rides. This can be a very convenient and cost-efficient option for citizens who regularly travel throughout South Florida. 

Is Brightline Accessible Right Now?

Unfortunately, service has been suspended since late March in efforts to fight the current pandemic. The suspension is only temporary, and the construction phases are ongoing. Work crews are working in small numbers and maintaining a distance of six feet. Meanwhile, all other meetings have transitioned to online platforms to protect the health of all Brightline employees. 

What are Some Tips for Railroad Track Safety?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to caution drivers and pedestrians when they are near train tracks. Technically, it is illegal to be on train tracks unless you are at a designated crossing. Because not everyone regularly encounters a train, it is important to remember that a train can not stop as quickly as your vehicle can. You need to take the initiative to stop yourself instead of relying on a train to stop because it takes a train at least a mile to come to a complete halt. 

If you will be traveling near the construction zones for the Virgin Trains system, keep these tips in mind: 

  • Trains have the right of way.
  • Listen carefully to your surroundings.
  • Trains are wider than the actual tracks.
  • Do not challenge a lowering gate. Yield to it.
  • If your car gets stuck on the crossing, exit the vehicle, and call 911. 
  • Do not cross until the gates fully open and the flashing lights completely stop.
  • Make sure you have plenty of room to cross and follow through with the action.

Are Train Accidents Common in Florida?

Unfortunately, Florida ranked 2nd highest in the nation for the number of fatalities from freight and passenger trains in 2017. Most of these accidents happen because of human error, machine failure, or a mistake in the tracks. That is why it is especially important for drivers to be mindful of the construction going on right now. Not only could a road collision hurt a crew member, but it could also throw off the process of the tracks and cause a mistake that could come back to haunt us in the future. 

Florida has several freight carriers that make train traffic pretty common. They include, but are not limited to, Florida East Coast Railway, CSX Transportation, Florida Central Railroad, Florida Northern Railroad, National Railroad Passenger Corporation d/b/a Amtrak, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (Tri-Rail), and Virgin Trains USA. With such a variety of carriers coming through, it is no surprise that there are 2,000 railroad track collisions each year in our country. 

What To Do If You're Involved in a Train Accident

Roads can be dangerous enough with regular vehicular traffic, but the dynamics heighten when a train is nearby. Whether it's a train track that's been there for decades or one that's being currently constructed, be mindful about the requirements for safe driving near a train and how they differ from that of other vehicles. If you're involved in a train accident, you do have the right to sue for compensation. With investigations completed by the National Traffic Safety Board, the Federal Railroad Administration, and state and local governments, you can build a strong case with the help of a trusted lawyer at Keller, Melchiorre, and Walsh. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a train accident, call us today to get started with a personal consultation best suited for your needs.

About the Author

Christopher Keller

Christopher J. Keller is an experienced plaintiff's personal injury attorney.  He concentrates his practice in the areas of Wrongful Death, Auto, Truck, Train & Motorcycle Accidents and Premises Liability.  Before founding Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh, PLLC, Mr. Keller practiced personal injury ...

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