By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Metro Green Line is not even up and running yet and there has already been three accidents during practice runs on the rail. St. Paul and Metro Transit officers say that is a problem.

For months officers have been out educating people on how to be safe around the train.

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It’s part of a new education and enforcement effort to make sure when the train is running for real — everything goes smoothly.

Every 10 minutes, test trains run along the green line tracks in St. Paul.

Along with every train, you will find officers looking to make sure people driving and those walking follow traffic laws put in place to keep them safe along the rail line.

From one end of University Avenue to the other, light rail trains are getting a work out in preparation of the opening of the Metro Green Line in 24 days.

“Things just got a lot busier on University Avenue,” said Metro Transit police officer Jake Ayers.

Ayers has been riding this stretch of blacktop for months.

“They need to realize that things changed along University Avenue,” he said.

He is part of a collaborative effort with St. Paul Police to educate people about safety around trains.

“We’ve noticed the increase of left turns in front of trains,” said Sgt. Paul Paulos, of the St. Paul Police.

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There have been three accidents on the Green Line during practice runs.

Paulos said no one was seriously hurt but all of the accidents could have been avoided.

“When you are making that left-hand turn, don’t try and beat the train and as you can see as one goes by us, they do travel at a nice speed,” he said.

Officers are also checking to make sure people on foot are following traffic laws, as well.

They don’t want to see people walking on the tracks or crossing where they shouldn’t.

“First and foremost, we’re looking to educate,” he said.

Officers are armed with safety brochures in five different languages.

They just want people to obey the law and watch for signs in place to keep them safe.

“If it’s a red arrow that says ‘No Turn on Red’ then they need to stay put until that changes for them to proceed because most likely that train is going to proceed through either east or west and there is going to be impact between the two vehicles,” Ayers said.

Signage along the Green Line is similar to the ones you’ve seen across the state.

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Officers say if people on foot or behind the wheel pay attention and follow them, we should have fewer accidents when the Green Line debuts.

Reg Chapman