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Police blocked off railroad crossings at California, Broadway and Main after a malfunction forced the crossing arms to go down for hours.

Cold weather conditions probably did not contribute to a crossing arm malfunction which began Wednesday morning on Broadway, California and Main Streets, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Media Director Joe Faust said today.

The crossing arms lowered around 8 a.m., impeding drivers for several hours and drawing the attention of Gainesville Police who were on scene to help with traffic control.

Faust said the cause is likely a mechanical malfunction not related to recent frigid temperatures.

“It is a mechanical device, so you can have a malfunction,” Faust said. “I hate to speculate on the exact cause (without having more information.)”

He noted that BNSF takes crossing arm and other railway crossing malfunctions seriously.

“Police, fire and all other emergency responders have an emergency response number for BNSF Railway,” he said. “They should have that number and can notify us of any malfunction immediately.”

The situation caused some inconvenience for drivers.

 “We did get Broadway back open so we were diverting traffic there,” GPD Public Information Officer Bobby Balthrop said. It’s also possible the arms went down as a safety precaution, he added.

“Normally what happens, because the railroad crossings have a fail-safe on them, if they lose power for any reason, they automatically go down and come on,” Balthrop said. “When something happens, by default, they go down.”

Register Reporter Greg Russell contributed to this report.

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