Official says alarm problems at rail crossings have improved


SPOTSWOOD — Conrail has addressed complaints that its railroad crossing lights and bells were going off for long periods of time, even when no trains were coming.

Borough officials had said the false alarms were causing traffic backups at times and creating a nuisance issue for residents who live near the tracks.

Council President Curtis Stollen said he was glad to see Conrail responding to complaints and dealing with the signal problem. However, he noted that the crossing lights still seem to go off for no reason about once a month.

“But it’s not as bad as it was during the summer,” he said.

Traffic on Summerhill Road in front of the municipal building was especially affected when the railroad lights and bells went off continuously. Drivers were fearful of crossing the tracks, not knowing if it was a false alarm or if a train was coming, Stollen has said.

Local officials were not certain what Conrail did to fix the problem.

“They would do something to make them stop,” Stollen said. “I’m not sure if they got to the root of it or reset them.”

The town’s history with Conrail has been contentious at various times going back decades. A recent conflict involved the sides arguing about a piece of Conrail-owned property on Main Street near the Spotswood borderwith East Brunswick. Officials felt that the area was unsightly, and Conrail was allowing commercial trucks to be parked there. Borough officials wanted to clean up the area and improve the landscaping, but Conrail said the only way the town could do so would be to lease the property. The two sides eventually agreed on a negotiated price, and the borough took it over.