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Charlotte Area News

Light Rail Officials Target Daredevils

Daredevil drivers have prompted the Charlotte Area Transit System to mail thousands of warnings to homes and businesses near light rail crossings. WFAE's Julie Rose reports the outreach comes exactly three years after the Lynx Blue Line began running. Three years ago today, the light rail made it's inaugural run in Charlotte, and since then transit officials have noticed an alarming trend. There have been 213 broken gate arms at light rail crossings, says CATS general manager of safety and security Bryan Leaird. The crossing gate arms are being broken by drivers who step on the gas when the warning lights start to flash and end up crunched by the red and white striped arm as it comes down. To date, Leaird says there have been no fatalities as a result of drivers gunning to beat the crossing arm, but "when you see that people are doing that, you can't just sit back and not respond." "I don't want the question to be 'There was a fatality at this intersection, why didn't you do anything about it?" says Leaird. To address the trend, transit officials this week sent postcards to 26,300 homes and businesses near where the light rail crosses street traffic. One South End intersection at Camden Road and Park Avenue is now the 2nd most accident prone location in the city, thanks to Lynx. The postcard tells drivers it's not worth risking their lives to beat the train when waiting for it to pass typically takes less than a minute. The transit system spent $6,500 to mail the warnings - the equivalent of replacing about nine crossing gate arms busted by racing cars.