This is where the gate used to be:
A bit of background:
Dan Jones (not his real name) is a big bear of a guy who was originally in ATC management when he first worked for Metro. He had retired from the Navy and was used to everything being ‘ship shape’. He would actually do white glove tests in the TCRs! Needless to say, he went through a lot of gloves since there is black tunnel dust everywhere underground and above ground there’s plenty of your garden variety dust. This drove “Big Dan” crazy but he finally abandoned the white glove tests. Dan finally blew a gasket and quit when he tried to take a switch out of service and Central Control (OCC) overruled his decision.
OCC had a habit of doing stuff like that up until recently. Their priority was moving trains, not safety. If something might delay trains – regardless of whether it was safety related – OCC would often ignore it. In fairness to Dan, I can understand him being upset in that situation, but I wouldn’t quit over it.
Anyway, Big Dan wasn’t gone long. He came back and when he did he got smart and went into the Safety Dept. Safety personnel can pretty well trump anyone else. Dan’s office was at Shady Grove Yard (A99) for a long time.
Back to the story:
I’ve written previously about what we call the Osama Gate. Immediately to the right/south of the Osama Gate used to be a large double gate for vehicles and employees to access the tracks behind Shady Grove Station (A15) from Shady Grove Yard (A99). It had been there since A15 and A99 were built.
Employees can ride the trains and buses for free but must pay for parking in the public lots. There were and still are Metro employees who work downtown at the Jackson Graham Building (JGB) that take advantage of the free employee parking in the yard (A99). They park in the yard and then walk through the large double gate (the Dan Jones Gate) on their way to the station.
This wasn’t a problem until A99 began to have more employees working there, the TPAS recruits began to train there, and more and more people who worked at the JGB began parking at A99 as well. It got to the point where Big Dan had no place to park when he came to work in the morning – well no place close, like a man of his position and place deserved! Another manager in the Safety dept told me that Dan convinced the superintendent of A99 to require everyone at A99 to have a ‘parking pass’ (to keep out the JGB people). The JGB employees filed a grievance and won, since the rules state that [paraphrasing] a Metro employee can park in any available space on Metro property, regardless of where they work.
D’oh! What to do now?
Dan thought and he thought and finally he realized he could abuse his authority by declaring that it was UNSAFE for anyone to cross the tracks just beyond the gate without:
*An approved safety vest
*Proper wayside safety training
Some of the above is reasonable but it was clearly done to prevent the JGB employees from parking in what Dan considered to be his personal parking space. After all, there was a blacktop foot path leading from the gate to the station platform! Employees had been walking through there for years. In addition, trains travel about 5 mph in that area – it’s not as if it is a section of track with trains whipping by at 75 mph.
When people ignored Dan’s directive, he had very official looking signs posted.
When people ignored the signs, he had the gate padlocked.
When people purposely “lost” the padlock several times, he had it and the chain welded to the gate.
When people purposely left the padlock unlocked, Dan had a new high security lock installed that only extra-special people had the key to.
When that didn’t work, he had the gate welded shut.
It was pointed out to Big Dan that locking the gate in this manner forced hundreds of train operators; TPAS officers; supervisors; technicians; custodians; mechanics; and other employees to walk around the long way to A15, slowing response times and costing Metro money but he didn’t budge. Then it was brought to his attention that it was actually a Safety hazard to have the gate welded shut and he finally backed off.
The above occurred over the course of several years. The gate would be locked for a few weeks or months, then unlocked, then locked again.
Now the gate has been completely removed.
Yep, Big Dan – on the job. Keeping Metro employee parking spaces safe and secure (for himself), by whatever means necessary. Of course while Dan was hyper-focused on his gate, there were multiple serious safety concerns that went unaddressed…but hey, a man’s gotta have his parking space!