Overnight Wednesday/Thursday at about 1:15 a.m. Thursday, March 19, 2020, an outbound Metra train was arriving at the Arlington Heights Metra train station. The train was westbound at Arlington Heights Road, but as the train crossed Arlington Heights Road, the gates at Dunton Avenue, which were down, went up with the train approaching Evergreen Avenue. The train engineer sounded the horn, and the gates at Dunton Avenue went back down by the time the train slowly passed through the Dunton Avenue crossing.
Cardinal News made a call to the Union Pacific toll free number located at the crossing. There were over 30 rings before an operator for Union Pacific answered. He asked for the DOT number for the crossing (located on a silver hut) before taking any details about the gate malfunction. Immediately after the DOT number was given, the call disconnected.
Cardinal News made a second call to make sure Union Pacific was aware of the specific details of the problem. Again the phone rang over 30 times, and a different operator answered.
When the operator was told about a problem in downtown Arlington Heights, he said it was already reported.
Cardinal News asked, “What was already reported? You haven’t even taken any details yet.”
The operator replied, “We’re aware of a gate malfunction with delayed lowering at Evergreen Avenue.”
Cardinal News replied that Dunton Avenue gates are lowering and then going up as the train approaches, and that the status of Evergreen Avenue was unknown to Cardinal News.
The operator said the police had already reported the gate malfunction at Evergreen Avenue.
Unaware of the Evergreen Avenue status, Cardinal News emphasized there is a problem at Dunton Avenue.
As the phone call was ongoing with the second operator, the operator said this was normal (which is not, at least not normal when the trains are that close).
Also, as the phone call was ongoing, a second Metra passenger train was approaching eastbound (inbound Chicago) at Vail Avenue. The gates at Dunton Avenue did not lower, even after the eastbound train passed Vail Avenue. The second train engineer sounded the train horn and proceeded slowly. The train did not stop at the Metra station, but the gates at Dunton Avenue lowered before the train crossed Dunton Avenue, and the train passed slowly through downtown without stopping. This situation was also reported to the Union Pacific operator.
Arlington Heights police were made aware of the gate malfunction at Evergreen Avenue from a phone report from a previous caller.
Motorists should always look both ways and listen at any railroad crossing — even a crossing that has automatic gates.
Railroad gate malfunctions have previously been well-documented at a crossing in Mokena at 191st Street and the Metra Rock Island District railroad line.
A Metra train nearly hit at least three cars at a crossing in south suburban Mokena last month, after the crossing gates failed to warn drivers of the oncoming train. CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross reports.
A newly released video shows multiple Metra trains had close calls with cars in Mokena in November 2018.
New Metra concerns in Mokena when railroad crossing arms malfunction at Wolf Road (CBS Chicago Charlie De Mar).
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