Close Call at 65th Street Railroad Crossing Amid Complaints of “Malfunctioning” Gates

Published On July 30, 2019 | By Rob Arias | Breaking News, News & Commentary

A near car-train collision occurred last Thursday July 18th at the railroad crossing gate at 65th & Overland. A head-scratching photo posted by a resident at about 6 p.m. showed a black Audi sedan “pinned” between a gate arm and an Amtrak commuter train.

Miraculously, the train did not strike the vehicle and there were no reported injuries. Because of the lack of damage, there was no Emeryville police report filed. Emeryville Police Chief Jennifer Tejada noted that an officer responded to the area, but the scene had already been cleared by the time they arrived. The image shows a uniformed officer helping control the scene, but apparently they were coincidentally a passenger on the train.

Several commenters weighed in with their own observations of the recent erratic behavior of the gates “The gates were malfunctioning this week and had morning traffic backed up,” noted one commenter. “Those gates have malfunctioned more than once recently, and it’s such a headache,” added another.

The City of Emeryville and its leaders are apparently aware of the ongoing issue and have received complaints. “I literally had this conversation yesterday with city staff,” noted Councilmember John Bauters on his Twitter handle. “This is why UPRR needs to stop wasting time with our proposed railroad safety designs and make them happen. This is not acceptable.”

The safety designs Bauters is referring to are the so-called “quiet zones” that he helped spearhead while serving his turn as Mayor last year. The project would require fortifying the crossings with a four quadrant gate system. The city procured state funding for the project but has been slowed by a lethargic approval process with Union Pacific. Negotiations with rail carriers are said to be extremely bureaucratic and the South Bayfront bridge has been delayed over a year awaiting “air rights” from them.

Incidents around the tracks appear to be on the rise including a vehicle that was struck due to poor visibility earlier this year and person that was struck back in January, 2018. We have reached out UPRR but they have not responded.

Feature Image: Rose Gonzalez via Twitter

About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

8 Responses to Close Call at 65th Street Railroad Crossing Amid Complaints of “Malfunctioning” Gates

  1. Anonymous says:

    Looks like Amtrak Police

  2. Kevin Mulvey says:

    Does this mean we might soon enjoy a future when 3 AM 110 db train horns no longer wake up the entire Emeryville residential corridor?

  3. Betty Tyler says:

    Better reactivate the train whistles until the fancy gates are installed.

  4. While I am fully willing to believe that people have seen real errors in railroad gate behavior, and while I’m glad no one got hurt in this situation, I would be 100% not surprised if it turned out that the Audi driver decided that they could make it across the tracks as the arm was coming down and then thought better of it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t know what this specific driver’s situation was, but you’re wrong if you think the arms are working correctly. Several weeks ago I was in my car approaching the tracks. I waited at the 65th Street red light and when it turned green I drove across the tracks. When my car was literally ON the tracks I suddenly saw that a train was barreling toward me- it was heart-stopping. Needless to say, I gunned the gas to get the hell off of the tracks. The train wasn’t right on me but it was clearly at an unsafe distance for my car to be crossing the tracks. If anything had gone wrong for my car in that moment, like stalling out or somehow getting stuck, I wouldn’t even have had time to exit my car- I would have been dead. I called 911 asap to report the danger and they said they’d pass the information on immediately.

      After that day, out of caution I started coming to a stop and looking down both directions of the track before crossing.

      Then about a week later the very same thing happened right in front of my eyes, although that time I wasn’t on the track because I had braked before proceeding onto the tracks. The crossing light did then come on and the arm did come down, but the timing would have been unsafe again for my car to actually have been crossing the tracks. The town of Emeryville clearly doesn’t care about ensuring people’s safety enough to simply fix the timing of the lights and the crossing arm, so anytime I need to cross there now, I make sure to look up and down the tracks before crossing, even if the light has just turned green for me.

      It sure looks like my call in to 911 went ignored.

    • ChefAl says:

      That was my thought as well. I live by that location and stand about 100 ft from the gate for my bus daily – the gate doesn’t appear to be malfunctioning – it often goes down when the train, visibly seen down the track has triggered the sensor, and the arm will go back up about 30 secs after if the train doesn’t proceed. To cross the track on either side on 65th requires slowing down to not “bottom out” even if an arm does not come down and like the buses and other commercial vehicles, they stop and look – it is a very clear vision either way if a train is within minutes of arriving. It is common to see cars try to beat the lowering arms as well as go around them. And being a daily witness to all the overzealous, over-warning train horns and whistles, it is VERY doubtful the train or anyone affiliated with it are at fault.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well my experience was that when the light turned green for me I drove across the track without delay. I wasn’t sneaking in at the last moment or doing anything other than regular, normal driving. It didn’t feel safe or make sense to me that out of the corner of my eye I saw a train barreling in my direction.

    I’m a local. Many people driving in Emeryville are not locals and unaware, so I think it’s better to stay on the side of caution and make sure that everyone who crosses the tracks is safe. I reported my experience and that’s the limit of what I personally can do- the rest is up to the authorities in charge of the track signals.

    But I can tell you that I also, like buses and commercial vehicles, now always stop and look down both directions of the track before proceeding. The view down the track is clear and unimpeded and yes, seeing the coast clear is probably the best safety measure at that crossing. It shouldn’t be one that unaware visitors to Emeryville have to depend on, though. Their safety should be protected.

  6. Dan says:

    just goes to show that train horns are not sufficient. The only thing they are good at are waking people up in the middle of the night. Can’t wait for the upgraded quiet crossings. I’m not a fan of everything John Bauters does, but he single-handedly got funding for this without costing our city an additional penny (he applied for and got state funding/grants)

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