Woman Killed On Redlands Arrow Rail Track Not Long After Civil Engineer Sought Crossing Safety Features

Less than a month after service on Redlands Metrolink Arrow rail system was initiated, a pedestrian transiting the tracks near California Street was struck and killed by the train.
The death occurred despite public requests before the service began for signalization and safety features for pedestrians to be incorporated into the project design.
The Arrow Rail route, which was originally slated to cost $360 million, began construction in 2019, requiring the replacement of existing track between San Bernardino and Redlands. Reports are that the project cost zoomed to more than $410 million.
The project entailed the completion of four new stations, including one at Tippecanoe Avenue near the Loma Linda/San Bernardino boundary, New York Street, Downtown Redlands and at the western entrance to Redlands University. The Arrow Rail route operates 21 trips per day between the long extant Downtown San Bernardino Rail Center and Redlands University. There is also a single express train daily between Downtown Redlands and L.A. Union Station, with a departure from Redlands at 5:58 a.m., and a return to Redlands from Union Station departing at 5:26 p.m.
Prior to the service starting on October 24, there was concern that the track as it is laid out, running near and across streets without safety measures and devices and minus clearly demarked crossings and features to protect passengers in the main as well as, to a lesser extent, bicyclists and motorists, would lead to injuries and death.
That appears to be what happened on Wednesday afternoon, November 16, when a woman walking along the tracks east of California Street stepped into the path of an approaching train.
According to the Redlands Police Department, the train’s engineer applied the braking system and emergency stoppage augmentations but was unable to prevent the Arrow’s engine from slamming into the woman, who was declared dead at the scene by arriving paramedics roughly 15 minutes later. She has not been identified by name, but was said to be a 42-year-old transient. Officials said it was unknown whether she was cognizant of the train, which was approaching from the east.
Steven Rogers, a licensed civil engineer residing in Redlands, in the months and weeks before the initiation of Arrow Rail service on October 24, asked and then pleaded with both the San Bernardino County Transportation Agency and the City of Redlands to incorporate pedestrian safety features into the project.
Rogers indicated that hazards for those who needed to cross the line existed along the entire nine miles of the newly established commuter route but emphasized in particular the problems that would exist at major street crossings. On September 6, he addressed the Redlands City Council on the subject. The following day, he attended the board meeting of the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, known by its acronym, SBCTA, and formerly known as the San Bernardino Association of Governments, which utilized the acronym SANBAG. The San Bernardino County Transportation Authority’s board consists of 29 members, a city council member or mayor from each of the county’s 22 cities and two incorporated towns along with all five members of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.
On September 7, Rogers addressed the SBCTA board about the lack signalization and safety features for pedestrians that were in the project design, while asking for alterations to lessen the hazards. He focused that day in particular on the pedestrian issues at the spot where there was likely to be the largest number of passengers disembarking from the train.
“We are very concerned about the access from the University Station to the neighborhood because the way it’s set up now, you get off the train and you walk toward University [Street] on both sides of the station and it comes right to the street and there’s no way to get across University,” Rogers said. “So, my recommendation, and what I thought should have been put into this design originally, is we need a traffic signal at Park [Avenue] and University [Street]. Right now, SBCTA’s built a median across there but I think this needs to be modified and we need to have a signal put in there in order for it to accommodate people to be able to get across the street. I really think that this is a huge health and safety issue and welfare for the community. I would encourage Ray [Wolfe, the executive director of the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority] to look at it. I’ve been talking to staff, and I don’t know what more to say, but I’d hate to see somebody killed out there. The first person that’s killed out there may be some kid that’s ridden from San Bernardino over to Redlands because they want to go to the Redlands skate park. They have no way to get across the street. So, please, do the right thing.”
That did not prompt any revamping of the plans for the project and no construction of crossings with signals were visibly evident as the line was entering into the final stages of completion. Rogers again spoke before the SBCTA Board on October 5.
“These issues that I am bringing up are not that expensive to fix, but it is going to cost some money,” Rogers said. “I’m really concerned about the safety of the Arrow Line. It’s not just the University Station area; it’s the entire thing, I believe, because this is all one project. I don’t know that SBCTA has built any other trains before. I can’t wait for Metrolink to get involved and SCRRA [the Southern California Regional Rail Authority]. They need to be involved. They need to take this project out of SANBAG and SBCTA’s hands because I’m really concerned about the safety for the public of this project with the response I’ve been getting to all the concerns I’ve raised, legitimate concerns.”
Rogers maintains that there are devices which include sensors to detect oncoming trains and the presence of pedestrians, which can be used to trigger gates or signals to prevent or ward off pedestrians and keep them from getting in front of an oncoming train.
“Apparently, we don’t rate out on the east side of the county,” Rogers said. “You have to live on the west side of the county to be taken care of.”
In places such as Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga, Rogers said, “all kind of new technology in the world is used. We’re going to have an opening on the 24th [October 24]. Passengers are going to start using this line without addressing any of these safety issues that I’ve raised.”

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