With no cautionary signals or markings, it would be an understatement to say that Franzese was surprised when he saw an approaching freight train as he crossed over the familiar stretch of track.
“As I was going through, none of the lights or signals went off and it was pretty much normal,” Franzese recalled. “When I looked to my left, maybe 20 feet away, the train was close. The headlights were are on and it scared the crap out of me.”
Franzese is the owner of Lexmat Printing, located at 73-05 88th St. He lives just off 88th Street near Duran Avenue, and crosses the tracks anywhere from 10 to 15 times a day.
“I never saw anything like that,” he said. “There was no warning as I was crossing.”
According to Aaron Donovan, deputy director for external communications with the LIRR and Metro-North Railroad, the incident was, in fact, a normal crossing operation.
“Per normal procedures, the train was operating at a slow speed, 15 m.p.h. or less,” Donovan said. “As such, the crossing gates will operate only when the train reaches a circuit that extends for a short distance on either side of the roadway.”
Donovan added that, “under New York & Atlantic Railway rules, the trains traveling on this segment of track cannot proceed past a roadway crossing until the crossing gates are in the down position.”
Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, said she was most concerned about the lack of outreach regarding the new procedures on the track.
“I’m outraged by this,” Masi said. “This would have had no attention if it wasn’t for social media.”
Masi, who oversees the Glendale Civic Association Facebook page, said she immediately notified nearby schools after Franzese posted about his encounter to notify the group.
“P.S. 113 immediately sent an email to all of their parents,” she assured. “We have a lot of kids who walk close to those tracks every day.”
Community Board 5 chairman Vincent Arcuri said although the incident is normal operating procedure, it did startle nearby residents.
“It was a non-incident, but not having informed the public of the change, some people got excited,” Arcuri said. “The gates should still be functioning.”