New Green Line endures 4th crash before opening day - KMSP-TV

New Green Line endures 4th crash before opening day

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The new Green Line that connects Target Field in Minneapolis to the Union Depot in St. Paul won't begin service until June 14, but a light-rail train and car collided in downtown Minneapolis on Sunday night as the train was on a test run -- the fourth crash the new Green Line has endured this year.

According to the accident report, a 26-year-old woman driving a Chevrolet Prizm collided with the light-rail and damaged the front end of her car at the intersection of Portland Avenue and 5th Street at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

The woman was shaken up, but no one was hurt in the incident, according to Metro Transit police.

A small panel on the side of the Green Line train was knocked loose in the crash, which is still under investigation. The train operator has completed testing for drugs and alcohol, which is standard procedure.

The interesting thing about the most-recent crash is that it occurred on a rail line that is already in use by the Blue Line trains. In theory, drivers should be used to seeing them after 10 years of running through downtown Minneapolis.

"The signs and signals are not different," John Siqveland, of Metro Transit said. "A 'No U-turn' sign means no U-turn. It's the same here as in Bemidji, and a left-turn arrow here means the same as it does in Rochester. It's about getting used to the new pace of life in the corridor with the trains rolling."

OTHER CRASHES

This marks the fourth accident since light-rail practice runs began earlier this year.

April 30: A van struck a light-rail train at University Avenue and Vandalia Street in St. Paul. The driver of the van was cited for failing to have proof of insurance.

May 10: A truck struck a light-rail train at University Avenue and Pascal Street in St. Paul. there were no injuries. The truck driver was cited for failing to obey a traffic signal.

May 16: A driver attempting to make a U-turn on University Avenue and Eustis St. in St. Paul turned into the train and was cited for making an improper U-turn and failing to have proof of insurance.

READY TO RUN JUNE 14

The $957-million train will transport riders about 10 miles from Target Field to the Union Depot in about 45 minutes and will run 24 hours a day.

MORE: Police patrol University Avenue to raise light rail awareness
MORE: Green Line schedule released

Rail operator and instructor Rolland Green told Fox 9 News that by 2030, more than 40,000 people will board the new Green Line each day. The line will connect to 18 stations total, including five shared with the Blue Line in Minneapolis. A train will pass through every 10 minutes during the heart of the day on the Green Line.

DRIVER: 'SOMEONE IS GOING TO GET HURT'

According to Metro Transit, all of the crashes involving light rail trains were the result of illegal turns, but one driver who was involved in a crash says there's more to the story than simple driver error.

"People who have the tendency to cheat red arrows, there are different consequences now with trains on the line," Siqveland said.

Alfred Taylor told Fox 9 News he ran into the new train at University and Pascal Street a month ago. He wasn't hurt, but his pick-up was dented. Although he was cited for failing to obey the stoplight, he believes more can be done to protect drivers and pedestrians.

"When they hit me, if they would have blown a horn, I would have been alert," he said. "They just go."

Taylor says he's concerned about the speed the trains travel along University Avenue.

"Someone is going to get seriously hurt sooner or later," Taylor predicted. "Might be today, next week, next month -- someone is going to get hurt. Too fast, they don't pull their horns -- just the bell. Ding, ding -- that's it."

Siqveland told Fox 9 News that Metro Transit is working with St. Paul police on a safety campaign over the past few months to make sure people are ready for the trains when they start rolling, but with four crashes in fewer than 6 weeks, the message may have gone off the rails.
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