JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Every year in North America, 2,100 people are killed or seriously injured engaging in unsafe behavior around trains and railroad tracks, according to traffic safety officials.
The Florida Department of Transportation is working to ensure these intersections are even safer with a new project called Operation Stride.
STRIDE stands for the Statewide Traffic and Railroad Initiative using Dynamic Envelopes.
Dynamic envelopes are high visibility paint designs placed in front of railroad crossings on the roadway to show all those using the intersection where the correct safe space is to stop.
The initiative ensures all state-owned railroad crossings have the new treatment to make sure they are highly visible so pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers can use the crossings as safely as possible.
FDOT spokesman Hampton Ray said the design is a proactive countermeasure to keep all those using the intersections at a safe distance.
“There’s a 15% decrease in railroad incidents with the implementation of this dynamic envelope,” Ray said.
In 2014 and 2017, FDOT conducted a pilot program using dynamic envelopes in South and Central Florida.
Traffic data from this program indicated that the number of vehicles that stopped on or too close to rail crossings was reduced.
Since this project started at the end of 2019, there have been 29 dynamic envelopes installed in Duval County, four in Clay County, three in St. Johns County, and two each in Putnam and Nassau counties.
According to a directive from FDOT Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, the dynamic envelopes will also be included in the design of any future railroad crossings on state-owned land.
FDOT advises anyone coming to a railroad intersection – whether walking, biking or driving — to approach carefully.
“No. 1 priority: use caution,” Ray said. “If you’re a pedestrian, do not walk on the tracks. That’s the No. 1 safety rule for pedestrians. For bicyclists, cross at 90 degrees. Definitely cross quickly and safely across the tracks. For drivers, don’t try and beat the arm. If you see the arms coming down, don’t try. It’s not worth it. It’s not. Use patience. “
The project to install the dynamic envelopes won’t affect drivers.
The new designs will be completed across Sunshine State in March 2022, but FDOT said you can expect ones in Northeast Florida to be completed by the end of next year.
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