Watch CBS News

Questions For Metra: Mokena Safety Gate Lowers After Train Arrives

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Only on CBS 2 -- new concerns about a Mokena train crossing with a recent history of close calls.

Days ago, new video surfaced showing what appeared to be another gate malfunction. Metra said there's no issue.

CBS 2's Jeremy Ross has the video and Metra's explanation.

Where tracks meet 191st Street, video captures a slow moving train crossing as the safety bar drops. Maureen Hagwell described her stomach drop as a reaction to the video she shot Friday afternoon.

"The actual arms did not go down until that train was halfway through that street," said Hagwell.

Other motorists called it concerning. A spokesperson for Metra described what was shot as the tail-end of a safety check.

Metra said, earlier in the day, someone reported the crossing bar was down with no trains in sight. That happens occasionally as a safety mechanism is triggered. As a result, a crew was called out to check it. No malfunction was immediately found.

"The arm should have been down from the point that the train was about to cross," Hagwell said.

Some motorists said they didn't feel comfortable with Metra's explanation. That comfort level was rattled back on November 9, where an officer nearly hits an oncoming train because the safety bar was not down in the same intersection.

Metra admitted there was a malfunction back then and for more than two hours trains going near and above 50 miles per hour were impacted, and an engineer failed to report the issue.

Metra's CEO spoke about the near collision back in January. Jim Derwinski said one failure is one too many and asked the public to report any failures going forward.

"I'm afraid that something catastrophic, something bad will happen in the future," Hagwell said.

Fortunately no injuries have resulted in the past and recent videos. Motorists hope that continues.

A Metra spokesperson questioned if this was a story. Sunday afternoon, he sent a statement reading in part "what's not pictured in the video is that the conductor got off the train, stopped traffic, and cleared the train to proceed. Soon after safety protections started again." The spokesperson added that there was no malfunction and Metra is not concerned again about the crossing.

Metra's full statement reads:

There was no malfunction. What the video shows is the precautions that were put in place in response to the earlier, unfounded report of a malfunction. Before the video started, the train had stopped short of the crossing; as it approached it had activated the gates, lights and bells. But when it stopped, the gates, lights and bells "timed out" or shut off.

That is what they are supposed to do when a train stops before the crossing. The conductor got off the train, walked into the crossing, stopped traffic and cleared the train to proceed. Then the train started to move slowly into the crossing and the protections started again. That's when the video starts. You can see that traffic is stopped before the train enters the crossing. Despite what your story said, we are not "concerned again" about the crossing.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.