Escape lanes coming to SunRail crossing in Longwood

FDOT says they won't open for another month or so

Officials are adding safe lanes to a SunRail crossing in Longwood to reduce the number of train and vehicle collisions.

LONGWOOD, Fla. – The Florida Department of Transportation announced it's adding escape areas by train tracks in Longwood.

FDOT said they won’t open for another month or so.

This is part of a $1.5 million improvement project along Ronald Reagan Boulevard from State Road 434 to Palmetto Avenue, according to FDOT.

The project includes:

  • Roadway work
  • Landscaping
  • Making sidewalks more compliant for people with disabilities, including lowering crosswalk buttons for the crossing signals

The escape lanes and areas are just past the tracks on the northbound and southbound sides. FDOT said on the northbound side, along both the left and right lanes just past the tracks.

The area will look like raised, wide sidewalks.

In the southbound lanes just past the tracks, the area is painted with white and yellow striping that is at a 45-degree angle.

Officials said the purpose is for drivers to pull forward into these lanes if they are stuck in traffic and stuck on the tracks to get away from a train.

Longwood Mayor Matt Morgan said he's relieved to see the new initiative.

"People in a rush, in a jam, try to get through at the last second, and boom, they get stuck," he said. "It's a scary sight, you get out of your car and you help them move it physically. I've done that twice, and gotten the car off the track myself." 

FDOT said using these escape lanes will not negate a fine for anyone stopped on the tracks.

"Stopping on the tracks is illegal, it's unsafe, but if you make a mistake, at least you have a place to go if a train is coming," FDOT spokesperson Steve Olson said.

Longwood police told FDOT they will continue to look for people who are stopped illegally on the train tracks. 

"We have a daily occurrence of cars parked on railroad tracks or within the railroad arms," Longwood police Sgt. Adam Bryant said. "It'll definitely dial down the number of accidents that we have throughout Central Florida." 

Signs explaining the escape areas are expected to be posted by the time the lanes are formally unveiled in about a month. 

About the Author:

It has been an absolute pleasure for Clay LePard living and working in Orlando since he joined News 6 in July 2017. Previously, Clay worked at WNEP TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he brought viewers along to witness everything from unprecedented access to the Tobyhanna Army Depot to an interview with convicted double-murderer Hugo Selenski.