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Broken Rail Leads To More Concerns About Metra Railroad Crossings In Mokena

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A broken rail has led to more crossing gate chaos in Mokena as three railroad crossings were impassable, leaving drivers confused.

Mokena Rail Crossing
(Credit: Jon Osborne)

Mokena's mayor said the gates did what they were supposed to do when there is a broken rail, but drivers want to know why it seems to keep happening despite the very public outcry about safety.

Charlene Bergman noticed the crossing bells Tuesday morning.

"They kept dinging and dinging and dinging," she said. "There's no train coming."

The crossing arms were bobbing up and down and up and down. She's lived next to the Schoolhouse crossing for 56 years and said sights like these have become common for the first time in recent months.

"The gates are down, and then they're up, and there's no train coming," Bergman said. "What's going on?"

Meanwhile Carlos Cosme's kids' school bus couldn't reach them at the Wolf Road crossing.

The Mokena School District Superintendent blamed the problems on the gates.

"Everyone's always on alert, especially when it comes here and 191st," Cosme said.

Metra said these crossings and the LaPorte crossing were affected by a broken rail, and this is what the arms are supposed to do.

A pedestrian directing traffic around the lowered gates Monday night in New Lennox Township added to the confusion and potential danger.

And Mokena residents are extra sensitive to unusual activity at crossings after seeing shocking video of a malfunction at the 191st street crossing in November. The arms didn't go down and there were several close calls with drivers.

"You have an uneasy feeling," Bergman said.

But Mayor Frank Fleischer said that he feels Metra is doing everything it can to fix the problem.

"I'm not going to blame Metra," he said. "I'm not going to blame the employees of Metra."

He said the overarching issue is funding to repair aging infrastructure.

"That should be a top priority, so that's my concern," Fleischer said. "I don't think Metra is getting the funding that we need."

In response Metra said it hesitates to blame the problem on aging infrastructure because newer rails can break as well, but Metra welcomes support for additional funding.

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