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For many Houstonians, the METRO light rail (“METRORail”) is an essential way to get from point A to point B every day. The rail has up to 23 tracks that run through Houston’s busy downtown streets, east downtown (or EaDo), and over to Texas Southern University and the University of Houston. While the METRORail keeps us moving during busy workweeks and special events, its transportation systems can also be deadly for those who unwittingly come in their path.
Earlier this month, the METRORail collided with a pedestrian south of the train’s crossing at Fulton and Crosstimbers as he was looking in the opposite direction and crossed the tracks. This unfortunately increased the METRORail fatality count to five this year. According to the Houston Chronicle, the incident has reignited concerns about safety along the rail lines, with Houston’s Metro Transit Authority saying the crash will lead to immediate and potentially long term changes.
This isn’t the first time Houston’s Metro Transit Authority had planned to roll out new safety measures. Earlier this year, Metro had made preparations to prevent collisions with both cars and pedestrians. Though it appears not much has changed, Metro spokeswoman Laura Whitley says they are currently prioritizing projects based on the number of accidents and near misses along the rail lines. “The next location scheduled for improvements is the Midtown area. However, in light of recent events near Fulton at Crosstimbers, we will be evaluating how quickly we can implement enhancements in that area.”
After two other high-profile fatalities in early 2017, during the Houston hosted Super Bowl LI, Metro embarked on months of study and analysis to reduce pedestrian fatalities. Efforts included cordoning off more portions of the tracks, redesigning some cross sections where pedestrians are frequently present, and developing more education campaigns for schools and neighborhood groups. Metro also added colors to the front of its gray trains.
Mitigating safety features like a nearby crosswalk or railings installed to prevent trespassers from crossing the tracks had not yet been implemented prior to this month’s fatal rail incident. In many locations, notably downtown and midtown, safety audits have led to the increased use of fencing to discourage people from crossing the tracks.
Despite the many efforts, METRO light rail accidents are an ongoing issue for transit officials. Only time will tell if new safety measures hold up or if these unfortunate incidences continue to occur.
If you or a loved one has been struck by the METRORail while on foot or in a car, the experienced Houston light rail injury attorneys at Adame Garza LLP can review the unique details of your case and determine what options are available to you. We know that you’re facing a difficult situation, and we can use our extensive experience in auto accident claims to put your mind at ease and guide you through every step of the process. Contact us today for a free consultation.