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Conductor to stop traffic at rail crossing

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Railroad crossing gates near the intersection of State Road 46 and State Road 11 are deactivated until Monday because of a defective circuit board.

Until Monday, the railroad will use a “stop and flag” procedure at the crossing, said John Goldman, vice president of Louisville & Indiana Railroad.

“Stop and flag” means trains will stop before the crossing for the conductor to get out and move into the intersection to flag down traffic, he said.

The train will then inch forward until the locomotive is through the intersection, Goldman said, at which point the conductor will get back aboard and get the train back up to track speed.

Since the beginning of June, the railroad stop arms at the crossing have lowered with no train present seven times and have failed to come up automatically each time, Mayor Kristen Brown said Wednesday.

The most recent incident was Wednesday morning when rush hour traffic was blocked about 7:45 a.m. The Columbus Police Department sent out an alert warning motorists that traffic was stopped at the rail crossing and to avoid the intersection.

Each time the train gates malfunction, Columbus police officers must lift the gates to allow the traffic to go through and then call a railroad employee to fix the gate, Brown said.

The issue is due to a malfunctioning circuit board that controls the gates, Goldman said. Because the railroad doesn’t want people to be confused by the gates lowering when there is no train, railroad officials deactivated the gates until Monday, when a new circuit board can be installed, he said.

While the “stop and flag” procedure means it will take trains longer to get through the crossing, it’s also the best way to ensure public safety, Goldman said. It means people won’t become accustomed to seeing the gates down because of malfunctions, he said.

Railroad officials don’t want motorists to think it is OK to go around gates because there isn’t a train coming, he said. Motorists need to continue to heed the signal, he added.

Railroad President Michael Stolzman said the decision to use the stop and flag procedure is part of a proactive effort to keep people safe at and around the railroad crossing.

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