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APD, Cap Metro, AISD Warn About Railroad Crossings

Perfectly set press conference shows how not to behave near the tracks

By Lee Nichols, 3:56PM, Wed. Feb. 18, 2009

Austin police warn motorists not to stop on the MetroRail tracks, while actual drivers helpfully provide visual aids.
Austin police warn motorists not to stop on the MetroRail tracks, while actual drivers helpfully provide visual aids.
photo by Lee Nichols

Somebody in the press departments of the Austin Police, Capital Metro, and/or Austin Independent School District deserves a bonus for setting up a perfect photo-op today. Those organizations all wanted to warn schoolchildren, pedestrians, and motorists about proper behavior around railroad tracks, especially since the new MetroRail commuter rail cars will be much quieter and faster-moving than the freight trains that have used the Leander-to-Downtown line in the past. In short:

• Kids and other walkers should never walk down the tracks – not only is it dangerous and possibly deadly, but the tracks are also railroad property and violators can be prosecuted for trespassing.

• Automobiles at a red light should not be within 15 feet of tracks, and definitely shouldn't stop on the tracks.

That latter point made this morning's press conference outside Ridgetop Elementary at 51st and Airport brilliant. While police spokesmen described improper behavior, unwitting motorists obligingly and repeatedly provided examples of it behind them. Asked, "You mean like that?" (see photo), the spokesman replied, "Exactly."

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