Delray Beach will install barriers along railroad tracks downtown

Posted on September 30, 2016


It will soon be tougher to dart across the railroad tracks north of the pedestrian crossing in downtown Delray Beach after a woman killed crossing those tracks prompted the city to push for barriers along the railway.

Robin Brelsford Landes, 62, was struck by a train and killed while crossing the Florida East Coast Railway tracks just north of Atlantic Avenue in early August. Her husband, William Francis Landes, 58, saw the train crash, and died of natural causes the next day.

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Following the incident, city officials met with representatives of FEC, as well as AllAboard Florida, which is planning to run a high-speed train service through the area next year.

“The meeting was very productive,” Mayor Cary Glickstein said. He hopes to have barriers in place within one year, “before the first (high-speed) train rolls through the city,” he said.

FEC, which owns portion of land surrounding the tracks, was open to the idea of placing barriers, and is willing to discuss partially funding the project, Glickstein said.

FEC has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Delray Beach staff will review data, consider the dimensions of the area and right-of-way and come up with potential solutions and cost analyses, Glickstein said. They hope to have suggested solutions by January.

“There are a variety of ways to do this, the easiest being landscaping, without any kind of man-made barrier,” Glickstein said.

The city is also considering other barriers, like fencing, but Glickstein said “there are aesthetic factors to consider, given that they’re going through the downtown.”

Should Delray Beach place barriers, it would be the first municipality in Palm Beach County to do so.

The Federal Railroad Administration launched a study in 2008 of a stretch of railway in West Palm Beach with a “high incidence rate of trespass-related death,” but no barriers were placed.

That won’t be the case in Delray Beach, Glickstein said.

“I think for something like this you can’t wait around,” he said. The city is seeking federal grants to fund the project, but will likely move forward regardless with plans to install barriers along the tracks four blocks north and south of Atlantic Avenue, the area with the highest pedestrian traffic, Glickstein said.

Patrick Halliday, the co-founder of pedestrian advocacy nonprofit Human Powered Delray, pushed for the barriers at a city meeting, and encouraged city leaders to pursue the initiative.

“I made quite a big stink about this,” he said. “You’ve got to remember, we had a very tragic accident in a small town community that’s growing very rapidly.”

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