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Schumer accuses MTA of dragging feet on rail crossing updates

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Sen. Charles Schumer is accusing the MTA of dragging its feet and not using millions of dollars to improve the safety of railroad crossings.

The senator spoke on the issue Friday in Sloatsburg, at the same place where a commuter train crashed into a tractor-trailer last month.

Schumer wants the MTA to use $5 million that the federal government gave the agency four years ago to make safety upgrades at dangerous railroad crossings.

"So, they have the money. Where's the improvements?” said Schumer. “That's the purpose of being here today. We got you the money three years ago. Where are they?"

Schumer says if the improvements had been made, the Sloatsburg collision might have been prevented, along with fatal train crashes in Valhalla in 2015 and Spuyten Duyvil in 2013.

Nancy Montgomery, a spouse of one of four people who were killed in the Spuyten Duyvil crash after the train derailed, joined Schumer as he lobbied for train safety.

Montgomery says she doesn't blame the company, but instead feels frustrated. She's fearful that what happened to her husband is going to happen to someone else.

“These are my friends, this is my family. I don't want to lose any more lives,” she says. “2005, they were notified about that curve at Spuyten Duyvil. They were given a quick fix for that. They did nothing to fix that. People were killed.”

Schumer doesn’t believe the delay is political, but says it involves life or death.

“This isn't just a bureaucratic delay. We see a lot of those…” says Schumer. “…That's why I'm here to do this publicly. We tried to push them privately, to no avail.”

In response to Schumer’s claims, the MTA says it has taken aggressive action to increase safety and implement new technology which has resulted in a 33% decrease in grade-crossing accidents for Metro-North.

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