A Long History of Danger at the Tracks

A Long History of Danger at the Tracks

Journeys into River Edge

Just got done reading of another incident where a vehicle was hit by an NJ Transit train. This one occurred in Hackensack. To our best knowledge, it did not result in a death. The driver was extricated and transferred to a hospital. Train schedules were snarled and backup shuttle buses were required.

Such incidents are an all too frequent occurrence. Don’t know if it is a reflection of a society in too much of a hurry, the existence of electronic devices as distractions or perhaps something else. But there seem to be almost daily incidents. It is hard to believe since there are gates designed to ensure that vehicles and trains remain separated. It seems that there are many who just ignore the gates and try to beat onrushing engines.

It got us to thinking about how it was around here before those gates were installed.

It is not all that long ago either – later than it ever should have been. In fact, some of us old timers still remember well how it used to be.

It was not until 1969 that railroad crossing gates were installed at Grand Avenue, Main Street and River Edge Road.

Before that there were warning signs. And, in later years (1950’s-1960’s) red flashing lights and bells were added. But those devices did little to prevent regular incidents – sadly too many were killed and injured.

It is interesting to note that even after crossing gates were installed at the locations mentioned above, and important crossing remained without gates for a number of subsequent years.

The road that used to be known as Riverside Way – leading to the KBG fields, DPW and the River Edge Swim Club remained without gates. For many years the spot would be manned during the summer –either by an auxiliary police officer (teenager) or staff from the Swim Club.

Trains were infrequent (many more freight trains back then) and thankfully there were not many incidents, but it was, rightfully, perceived as a danger. I know we would shutter crossing.

It was hard to understand why it took so long. Thankfully, things have changed (litigious society) and there are gates at each of the crossings. Wish I could say that the needless injuries had stopped.

Our world has changed greatly over the years. Some aspects – human nature – seem to be less subject to change.