Streams

Kate Hinds

Kate Hinds appears in the following:

TN Moving Stories: TIGER Grant Winners Leak Out, Flights into France Cut, Tappan Zee Bridge Replacements Unveiled

Saturday, October 16, 2010

TIGER II grants to be announced this week, but the winners have begun to leak out. (Streetsblog)

Swiss complete drilling for 35.4 mile tunnel, the world's longest (BBC)

Unrest continues in France over possible increase in retirement age. Today, government to cut flights into French terminals by 50%. (New York Times)

Final replacement Tappan Zee Bridge spans unveiled.  With: rail link. Without: funding. (Second Avenue Sagas)

Q&A about the Chevy Volt, including the key question "Is the Volt an electric car or a hybrid?" (New York Times)

On a list ranking 10 low-stress jobs, transportation engineer comes in at #2. "(They) love what they do because they often interact with the folks that use the crosswalks or traffic systems that they develop." (CNN Money)

Build a Better 'Burb exhibit showcases different futures for Long Island. Like: "'SUBHUB' envisions a multipurpose commuter train station, along with shuttle buses that pick up passengers and products at schools and take them to the station." (New York Times)

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TN Moving Stories: GM Gives Volt a Boost, HUD Funds Development Along Transit Corridors, and Christie Says Sen. Lautenberg Should Find Money to Pay For ARC

Friday, October 15, 2010

HUD awards $100 million in sustainability grants (Streetsblog).  Among the winners: the Twin Cities area, which received $5 million to plan for development along transit corridors. (Star Tribune)

GM says consumer demand for the Volt is so high, it will boost production (Detroit Free Press)

MTA still working out the kinks in the whole electronic countdown clock process (New York Daily News). Meanwhile, a mistake in the Second Avenue Subway work cuts the gas off for more than 100 families (New York Times). But there is some good news: love is now allowed on the subway.

The Southtown Star looks back at the career of Metra's first female engineer, who's now ready to retire.

Are driverless taxis in Berlin's future? (Marketplace)

And, from the Star-Ledger: a video of Governor Christie's response to Senator Lautenberg's press conference yesterday: "Senator Lautenberg should find the money to pay for it."

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The ARC of the Covenant: ARC Tunnel Update

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ARC tunnel supporters are taking advantage of the two-week reprieve that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave the project to make their case again. Christie canceled the project last week because of cost overruns, though he later agreed to study more options after a meeting with federal government officials.

Today New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg and Regional Plan Association president Bob Yaro unveiled a new study ("The ARC Effect") that reiterated some of the arguments in favor of the $9 billion dig. And they said the study demonstrates the importance of the tunnel to a group of people whom, they said, had been overlooked: the Garden State's commuters.

"Just wait a few years. If there's no ARC tunnel, New Jersey commutes will come to a complete stop," warned the senator. "And if we cancel this project, New Jersey will continue to expand its role as a parking lot for New York City, isolated from job opportunities in Manhattan by making the travel time longer. Jobs that will have gone to New Jerseyans will instead go to people in Connecticut, Westchester, and Long Island."

The benefits of the tunnel, Lautenberg continued, are legion: better transit options would increase property values by $18 billion. Commuting times would drop on average by 15 to 30 minutes, which mean more family/leisure time. And the tunnel was critical for Homeland Security purposes.

But above all, he hammered home the point he's been making for some time now: New Jersey needs the tunnel, it has committed to building the tunnel, and it must respect that commitment. The senator wouldn't directly answer questions asking about what specific plans are under way to save the tunnel. But he said he wouldn't rule out going back to the federal government for more money.

"I'll certainly make the plea," he said. "I want the federal government to help out here. But New Jersey has to pick up its responsibility."

Bob Yaro said the need for the tunnel was a foregone conclusion, and that it was never going to be cheaper than now. "The congestion's only going to get worse. And the next governor, or the governor after that, is going to have to move ahead with this thing. And that's when you really will see a $15 billion or a $20 billion price tag."

Senator Lautenberg was asked if New York would be contributing money to the tunnel. "They haven't asked to do so," he said cagily, and he continued that he'd only ask them "warily." He said he hasn't gotten a response yet from a letter he wrote to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, asking them to help with any additional cost overruns. "They haven't said no," he said. "That doesn't mean they've said yes."

Governor Christie's office had no additional comment today beyond the statement they released last week, which reads:

“The fact that the ARC project is not financially viable and is expected to dramatically exceed its current budget remains unchanged. However, this afternoon Secretary LaHood presented several options to potentially salvage a trans-Hudson tunnel project. At the Secretary’s request, I’ve agreed to have Executive Director of NJ Transit Jim Weinstein and members from his team work with U.S. Department of Transportation staff to study those options over the next two weeks.”

That two week mark is coming up on Thursday, October 21.

Read the RPA's study here (pdf).

Listen to the audio from today's press conference by clicking on the following link: Senator Frank Lautenberg and Bob Yaro, Regional Plan Association

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Repurposing ARC Money: Let the Wishing Begin

Thursday, October 14, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Although the ARC tunnel seems to have received a temporary stay of execution (and today's news is that Senator Lautenberg is seeking private money to help save the project), that hasn't stopped other people from opining about how the billions of dollars could--or should--be spent in the region.

Sam Schwartz (aka Gridlock Sam) thinks the money would be better spent on Staten Island. He writes in the Daily News that using the money to "build an actual tunnel between the borough and the rest of the city...would finally level the playing field for the only borough without a subway line - but with terrible traffic from end to end." (And yes, I'm sure he knows that Staten Island has one lone, self-contained rail line.)

Meanwhile, speaking yesterday at a breakfast sponsored by Crain's New York Business magazine, the message from MTA chairman Jay Walder was straightforward: If they don't want it, we'll take it. He said that the cash-strapped MTA (which is hiking fares in January in an effort to combat their $900 million deficit) would try to get that money.

The Jersey Journal writes: "If the state and Port Authority want a tunnel, build one for the overburdened PATH trains. Another PATH tunnel, tracks and rail cars would serve more people and communities closer to the Hudson River, who are in need of better mass transit."

While these all fall under the category of wishful thinking rather than actual plans (I, for one, am tempted to use the money researching and developing clean energy jet packs), it raises the question: if the ARC tunnel dies, how would you like the money to be spent? Comment below!

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TN Moving Stories: More Ethanol Allowed in Gas; Ray LaHood's High-Speed Rail Dream; and Car-Eating Rabbits in Denver

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Iowa, the new Saudi Arabia? The EPA is now allowing up to 15 percent ethanol in gas. (NPR)

A plan to to pave parking lots and roadways with solar panels (turning them into solar grids) gains traction--and a little more R&D money. (Wired)

London's bike share program is on track to turn a profit--making it the only Transport for London system to do so.  (The Guardian)

California's Proposition 21 aims to tax motor vehicles to fund state parks. (East Bay Express)

Jay Walder, head of New York's MTA, wants to stay in his post through 2015 (Bloomberg). That's a lot of bus and subway rides: so far he's taken 887 in his first year on the job (New York Daily News). But some of those trips get thwarted, because sometimes he forgets to check for subway diversions before he goes out on weekends (WNYC).

Arlington and Alexandria officials to meet today to talk about joint transportation issues. Why is this news? Because "this is the first meeting of the two local governmental bodies in recent memory." (WAMU)

Ray LaHood imagines a United States in which 80% of all cities are accessible by high-speed rail by the year 2035. (Las Vegas Sun)

Car-eating rabbits plague Denver International Airport's parking lots.  Mmmm...soy-based wiring compounds!  (Jalopnik)

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Shovel-Ready Projects? Obama Admits There's No Such Thing

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)  In the upcoming New York Times Sunday Magazine, journalist Peter Baker's profile of President Obama, "Education of a President," includes this quote:

"There’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects."

No real surprise, as the president has already been saying watered-down versions of this, like the 2009 comment: "The term 'shovel-ready' — let's be honest, it doesn't always live up to its billing." But it's a hard lesson to publicly learn a month before an election which might lose your party the majority.

His full quote, which the paper includes in an online transcript of the interview, reads: "Infrastructure has the benefit of for every dollar you spend on infrastructure, you get a dollar and a half in stimulus because there are ripple effects from building roads or bridges or sewer lines. But the problem is, is that spending it out takes a long time, because there’s really nothing — there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects."

With this week's announcement of the president's hope for a six-year transportation plan (itself a more refined version of last month's $50 billion infrastructure announcement), it's clear that he's trying to take the long view and win bipartisan support.  "I think we have to have infrastructure that keeps up with the demands of the 21st century," he says in the New York Times transcript. "We can’t have a China that has the best airports, the best railways, the best roads, and we are still relying on infrastructure that was built 200 years ago or 100 years ago or even 50 years ago when it comes to things like broadband lines." Not to mention frame it as financially sound and historically popular. "Investing in our infrastructure is something that members of both political parties have always supported," he pointed out on Monday.

It's clear he's trying to implement one of the lessons learned in the first two years of his presidency, at least according to Baker's article: "You can't be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion."

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Can a Tunnel Under the Hudson Fix "The Great Traffic Ordeal?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lincoln Tunnel, New Jersey side approach, circa 1955

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)

"I don't think it is necessary for me to dwell upon the obvious significance the construction of this new tunnel has in helping us to keep abreast of the great traffic ordeal which surely represents one of the inexorable headaches of the City of New York....The benefits which will accrue upon the completion of this tunnel are, in my judgment, self-evident."

Think those words are about the ARC tunnel? Think again. That's the 101st mayor of New York City, Vincent Impellitteri, speaking on the WNYC airwaves on September 25, 1952, following the groundbreaking of the third tube of the Lincoln Tunnel. You can listen to the audio below; Mayor Impellitteri begins speaking about four minutes and 30 seconds in.

1952 Lincoln Tunnel Groundbreaking, Part 1

1952 Lincoln Tunnel Groundbreaking Part 2

The tunnel cost just over $94 million to construct. When it opened five years later, the New York Times called it "the first post-war breakthrough of the New York-New Jersey traffic bottleneck."

Other speakers on this vintage 1952 broadcast—which took place from the roof of the Hotel Astor in Times Square—were: New York State Lieutenant Governor Frank C. Moore; New York City Mayor Impellitteri; Ransford J. Abbott, commissioner of the New Jersey State Highway Department; Paul L. Troast, chairman of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and Harold W. McGraw, chairman of the West Side Association of Commerce. The master of ceremonies was Howard S. Cullman, chairman of the Port of New York Authority.

Thanks to assistant WNYC archivist Haley Richardson and the NYC Municipal Archives

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If The Volt Is Electric, Why Does It Have A Gasoline Engine?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

President Barack Obama drives a new Chevy Volt during his tour of the General Motors Auto Plant in Hamtramck, Mich., July 30, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

(Detroit -- Jerome Vaughn, WDET)  When is an electric car truly electric?  That’s what some auto industry watchers are asking, after seeing new information released by General Motors.

The Detroit automaker says the gasoline engine on the new Chevy Volt can sometimes help power the wheels.

The Volt has been championed as General Motors' effort to make a viable all-electric car that consumers will demand in large quantities.

The car can travel between 25 and 50 miles on an electric charge.  After that, the gasoline engine recharges the Volt’s battery pack for longer distances.

But GM’s revelation that there’s a connection between the gasoline engine and the powertrain makes the car seem more like a plug-in hybrid vehicle to some auto enthusiasts.

GM says it hadn’t previously shared all of the details on the Volt, because it was protecting proprietary information while awaiting patent approvals.

Production of the Volt is scheduled to begin next month.

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TN Moving Stories: Airline tarmac delays down, complaints up; MTA sued for lack of access; and New York's most veteran cabbie retires after 62 years

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A class-action lawsuit being filed today says that New York's MTA "makes travel next to impossible for New Yorkers with physical disabilities." (New York Daily News)

Ridership on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line is up almost five percent over last year -- which translates into $900 million more in revenue for Amtrak. (WBUR)

Long tarmac delays for airlines continue to decline (Los Angeles Times). It's not all rosy, though: complaints about airlines are up over a third (Columbus Dispatch).

DC's Metro conducts review of escalators and elevators, finds a host of problems (WAMU)

Vancouver creates a continuous network of protected bike lanes (Good)

Will Silicon Valley become the Detroit of the electric car industry? (NPR)

New York City cabbie hangs up license after 62 years behind the wheel (New York Daily News)

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Teens And Learning To Drive: Not Enough Practice, Not Enough Variation

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) How well are parents doing in terms of teaching their teenagers to drive?  Not so great, according to a recent study.

"Teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States." And motor vehicle accidents remain the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of North Carolina's Highway Safety Research Center installed cameras in the cars of 52 families for four months shortly after the teenagers obtained their learner's permits.  (The sample videos on the AAA website range from bracing to hair-raising.)  The tapes revealed parents often don't spend enough time teaching their teens to drive -- and they tend to stick to the same types of driving situations.

Image: AAA

Supervised driving experience often accounted for less than two hours a week, and a lot of that experience was under benign conditions in residential neighborhoods. There was very little practice under more challenging circumstances-- highways, heavy city traffic, at night, or in bad weather.

The parent-teen relationship was also key, with many parents and teens struggling to maintain equilibrium during the emotionally charged process of learning to drive.  On the one hand, you have to feel for the parents, whom the study says, has to balance being "a driving instructor, mentor, role model and psychologist." On the other hand:  16% of teens refused to drive with one of the parents because they perceived them as being hypercritical.  But as always, perception is key:   "From the driving clips, yelling between parents and teens was rarely observed. On the other hand, there were a number of instances where a teen told their parent to stop yelling when the parent’s voice was barely raised, if at all."

While most states require 50 hours of practice before a license is awarded, the AAA Foundation would like to see 100 hours of quality time.  As the report says, "Parents in the present study seemed well aware that  'lots of driving experience' is key to learning. What they did not seem to grasp is the importance of 'appropriate experience."

Read the report here (pdf).

To see the permit and licensing systems are in each state, click here (pdf).

Watch clips of the driving videos here. (.wmv)

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TN Moving Stories: Combating "Range Anxiety," NJ Transit wants commercial development of Hoboken Terminal, and remembering "the bus station from hell"

Monday, October 11, 2010

NPR takes a look at the efforts in the U.S. to make electric vehicle charging stations more widely available -- thus combating "range anxiety." One place charging stations will be: big box store Best Buy. (Earth2Tech)

As wrecking crews tear down San Francisco's Transbay Terminal ("the bus station from hell"), KALW talks to the people who have spent years commuting through it.

NJ Transit to propose commercial development of historic Hoboken Terminal. (Star-Ledger)

Google is testing a car that can drive itself (New York Times). But the BBC wonders:  are drivers really ready to "surrender the pleasures and frustrations of life behind the wheel?"

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was on today's Brian Lehrer Show to talk about his new report on bike lane chaos.  Listen to the audio below.

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GM To Recall 4000 Vehicles

Friday, October 08, 2010

(Detroit -- Jerome Vaughn, WDET)  General Motors is recalling nearly four thousand vehicles in the U-S because of a power steering issue.  The recall affects Cadillac SRX crossover vehicles from the 2010 model year with two-point-eight or three liter engines.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says some of the vehicles’ power steering pressure lines may have been damaged during manufacturing, and could lead to a leak.  If power steering fluid sprays onto hot engine parts, the fluid could ignite and cause an engine compartment fire. GM says it has a report of one such fire, but no reports of accidents or injuries related to the issue.

Dealers will inspect the power steering lines and, if necessary, replace them at no cost to consumers.  Affected owners will be notified by mail.

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TN Moving Stories: Emergency ARC Meeting in Trenton, and BRT Begins in NYC This Weekend

Friday, October 08, 2010

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff head to Trenton to meet with Governor Christie about the ARC tunnel. (WNYC)

Paul Krugman gets into the ARC fray with an op-ed calling Christie's decision "destructive and incredibly foolish." He continues: "We have become...a nation whose politicians seem to compete over who can show the least vision, the least concern about the future and the greatest willingness to pander to short-term, narrow-minded selfishness." (New York Times)

Bus Rapid Transit to begin Sunday on New York's East Side.

The upcoming election will likely decide whether passengers on DC's future Purple Line will ride trains or buses (Washington Post). Meanwhile, Virginia governor fails in latest bid to put his representatives on Metro board. (WAMU)

From the Economist: electric vehicles are neither useful nor green. But here in the U.S., purchasers of EVs get bombarded with incentives. "It just keeps getting better and better," says one buyer. (New York Times)

San Francisco, Oakland, climb list of bicycle commuting cities, with Oakland posting a whopping 18% increase. (Streetsblog)

President Obama’s Transportation Department has collected nearly twice as much in aviation industry fines as in the final two years of George W. Bush’s presidency. (Boston Globe)

European high-speed rail network to expand: in 2014, Eurostar will offer trains from London to Amsterdam and Geneva. (Telegraph)

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Christie says the ARC Tunnel is Dead. But Does the DOT Agree?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) We reached out to the Department of Transportation for comment and received this response:

"Secretary LaHood and Governor Christie plan to meet tomorrow afternoon to discuss a path forward on the ARC tunnel project.”

Senator Frank Lautenberg will also be speaking in about half an hour about the ARC tunnel.  We'll keep you updated.

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Christie Kills ARC Tunnel

Thursday, October 07, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Governor Christie has formally put the nail in the coffin on the ARC tunnel.  He issued a press release today that said:

"The ARC project costs far more than New Jersey taxpayers can afford and the only prudent move is to end this project."

He continues:  “There is no doubt that transportation projects are critical to creating jobs and growing our economy.  I have asked Commissioner Simpson and (NJ Transit) Executive Director Weinstein to work with all interested parties - Amtrak, the Federal Transit Administration, the Port Authority, the State and City of New York and our Congressional delegation - to explore approaches to modernize and expand capacity for the Northeast Corridor.  However, any future project must recognize the regional and national scale of such an effort and work within the scope of the State’s current fiscal and economic realities."

He adds: "The ARC project will be terminated and staff will immediately begin an expeditious and orderly shutdown of the project."

This decision comes after the governor halted work on the tunnel last month to assess its cost.

More as we learn it.

Below is the memo from the ARC Project Executive Committee to Governor Christie recommending the project's termination.

Christie ARC Memo

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Transportation Fatalities Drop 9%

Thursday, October 07, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)  The National Transportation Safety Board reported yesterday that "transportation fatalities in the United States decreased by 9.2 percent in 2009 from 2008, according to preliminary figures. The data indicate that transportation fatalities in all modes totaled 35,928 in 2009, compared to 39,569 in 2008."

Highway fatalities -- which account for nearly 95% of all transportation deaths -- decreased from 37,423 in 2008 to 33,808 in 2009. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration announced last month that road deaths have dropped to their lowest level since 1950.

The only categories to see an increase were pipeline fatalities, which went up from eight to 14, and marine deaths, which went from 783 to 817.

Earlier this week, the NHTSA unveiled changes to the government’s 5-Star Safety Rating System that made it more difficult for cars and trucks to earn top scores.

Read the NHTSB report here, and look at the table of data here (pdf).

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MTA Fare Hike Now Official

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The long-awaited MTA fare hike is now official. MTA Chairman Jay Walder announced Thursday that the price of a monthly MetroCard will go from $89 to $104, weekly cards will rise from $27 to $29 and base fares for single rides will increase by 25 cents.

AltTransport points out that "For people earning minimum wage in this city (which is currently at $7.25), the $104 card is more than a 10th of their salary."

WNYC has the story.

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To Save ARC Tunnel, Lautenberg Abandons Carrot, Moves to Stick

Thursday, October 07, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Earlier this week New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg tried to save the ARC tunnel by asking the Port Authority to guarantee to pay for any cost overruns on the ARC tunnel.

Today he's issued a statement that says NJ would not only have to repay $300 million to the federal government if the state kills ARC--but it would have to pay interest.

"How does it make fiscal sense for the state to write a $300 million check to the federal government right now?" asked Senator Lautenberg.  "It's bad enough that the Governor's blunder cost our state $400 million in federal education money over the summer - but now he wants to add $300 million to the tab.  Canceling the tunnel project is not just bad transportation policy - it's bad fiscal policy."

Lautenberg says $300 million is the amount of federal money that New Jersey has already spent on the tunnel.

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TN Moving Stories: Transportation Fatalities Down, Poverty On the Rise, and State of the Subways Report Out

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The National Transportation Safety Board says that transportation fatalities dropped 9% from 2008 to 2009. But on the rise: marine deaths and pipeline fatalities.  (Washington Post)

Poverty is on the rise across the country, but it's worse in the suburbs, where (since 2000) there's a 37.4% increase.  Rise in cities: 16.7%.  "Future poverty increases will be partly determined by...government policy decisions promoting job growth, affordable housing and transportation." (AP via New York Times)

The new Straphangers Campaign State of the Subways report says that overall, New York's subways have improved (New York Daily News). Especially compared to 25 years ago, when "17 percent of trains were mislabeled with the wrong line number or letter." All aboard the mystery train!  (WNYC)

The implementation of New York's "bikes in buildings" law is proving...challenging for some. (AM NY)

Ford is working with the New York Power Authority to prepare New Yorkers for electric vehicles. (Automotive World)

U.S., Japanese airlines win antitrust immunity for cooperating on pricing and routes (Bloomberg). Meanwhile, in other antitrust news, a company that provides ferryboat service to Mackinac Island (MI) is suing the local government and another ferry provider, saying that the latter two have conspired to create a monopoly. (Detroit Free Press)

The Seat Not Taken: John Edgar Wideman's op-ed on race and seating on the Acela. "Unless the car is nearly full, color will determine, even if it doesn’t exactly clarify, why 9 times out of 10 people will shun a free seat if it means sitting beside me." (New York Times)

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Railroad Worker Killed By Train NOT on Cell Phone At Time of His Death

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

(St. Paul, Minnesota - Laura Yuen, MPR News) -- Were authorities too quick to blame cell phones for a fatal rail accident that occurred last month in Minnesota? Perhaps.

Andrew Kim Weaver, 53, a veteran employee of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, was killed September 1, 2010 in the northern Twin Cities suburb of Coon Rapids.

Authorities said the man stepped off a test train and walked onto a nearby track, where he was hit by a Northstar commuter train that he apparently did not see. At the time, authorities said that was because he was talking on his cell phone.

It's a story that been repeated -- with some reason -- after a series of recent high-profile accidents involving trains.

But since then, family members began to question that claim, saying the story didn't jibe with what they knew of the veteran employee of the BNSF Railway.

Under pressure from Weaver's family, the sheriff's department this week said Weaver was not on his cell phone at the time he died, reversing its earlier version of events. Now, the office says Weaver, 53, of Fridley, apparently was using his cell phone shortly before he died -- but not at the exact moment he was hit. (See updated MPR story here.)

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