PORTLAND — Portland public works crews are installing barriers between lanes at the Riverside Street crossing near Auburn Street. The dividers are designed to prevent motorists from driving around the railroad gates.

Other improvements are planned for other crossings in the city, but are on hold so the improvements can be incorporated into planned intersection redesigns, said city spokeswoman Nicole Clegg.

Also, the trains travel fastest – up to 50 mph – at the Riverside crossing, she said.

Portland is a quiet zone, meaning trains are prohibited from blowing their horn to warn of their approach. As a result the city had to take other steps to improve safety.

The city warned that trains move faster than they appear, are much quieter than they were in years past and that many of the deaths as a result of train collisions occur when people ignore safety signals, Clegg said.

The Riverside improvements will be done by Friday, Clegg said. The work was delayed a couple days by Hurricane Sandy.

The city budgeted $150,000 this year for the crossing upgrades, with $22,000 for the Riverside Street barrier.

The city has already re-striped and added new signs and warning systems at city road crossings. Other lane dividers are scheduled to be installed this spring once the intersection designs are complete.