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CBS12 News Investigates: Tri-Rail gate concerns

CBS12's Michael Buczyner reports on Tri-Rail gate concerns after cellphone video showed a train gate malfunctioned. (Debra Bornstein)

Tri-Rail is responding to cellphone video obtained by CBS12 News of a railroad crossing malfunction near West Palm Beach.

The video shows the train stopped at a railroad crossing along Forest Hill Boulevard, just feet away from traffic Monday afternoon.

It’s frightening for Marcus James since he says he passes over the tracks several times a day.

“I’ve seen a train pass by and then they just haven’t moved,” he said. “Just peak my head around and just make sure a train isn’t coming and pedal along.”

CBS12 News went to Tri-Rail to ask about the video and what went wrong.

“It’s maintenance, sometimes there’s a battery that runs out if there’s a cable that’s not making good contact," said Brandy Creed, Tri-Rail's Director of Engineering and Construction. "There’s a number of reasons why things like this can happen."

Turns out the video only tells half the story. Tri-Rail released a document that shows a caller initially reported that all of the gates were stuck down at the crossings.

“The trains are aware that there is a malfunction and there is maintenance being done at the grade crossing,” Creed said.

Tri-Rail says a signal maintainer actually raised all of the gates, so traffic could go through while he was making repairs and that’s what they claim you see in the video.

“That train was walked on the crossing, it didn’t just go through unaware of what was going on, there’s definitely communication between dispatchers, conductors and engineers,” Creed said.

Tri-Rail says that it works roughly 80 to 90 grade crossing malfunctions a month. They say half are usually related to vehicles striking the gates or an obstruction, 40 to 45 a month they say are signal issues.

Tri-Rail says it took crews about two and half hours to fix the problem at the crossing, which they say was a bad circuit.

If you see anything strange on the tracks or to report an issue with a crossing, you’re asked to call 1-844-200-7233.

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