Residents, State Rep Concerned Over Safety Of Railroad Crossing

"If They Don't Fix It Soon, It'll Be Too Late"
Posted at 8:11 PM, Apr 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-24 21:12:29-04

Residents and state officials have demanded changes at a railroad crossing in Bellevue after another crash on the tracks.

On Monday, a 21-year-old driver was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in critical condition after attempting to cross the tracks on McCrory Lane and Highway 70 South in Bellevue despite the blinking lights.

A CSX freight train struck the vehicle and pushed it about a quarter of a mile down the tracks. 

Man Hurt In Crash Involving Train, Car In Bellevue

Longtime residents described the crossing as dangerous because of multiple crashes that have happened there over several years. 

State Representative Bo Mitchell told NewsChannel 5 he is frustrated by the lack of urgency from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to improve the safety of the crossing when there were already tentative plans set in place. 

"The administration in TDOT has been put on notice over and over about this dangerous situation and their failure to act is beyond belief to me," Mitchell said. 

He has been vocal about improving conditions since 2014 after a rollover wreck on the same spot involving five teenagers.

"I don't want to hear it's CSX's responsibility, I don't want to hear the driver shouldn't have rolled across the tracks," Mitchell said. "Let's fix the problem before someone is killed there." 

Last week, the representative addressed his concerns once again on the House floor. 

In email exchanges with officials, Mitchell said the railroad crossing safety project could have been completed as early as of 2015 but nothing seemed to have changed since then.

"We started in 2014 and it was going to be completed by February 2015," Mitchell said as he read the emails to NewsChannel 5. "Now we have another update in 2016 saying construction was going to start in April 2017. Well we are at the end of April and still nothing has occurred." 

A spokesperson with TDOT said the department has been working on the project for quite some time and admits its become more complicated than initially thought. 

McCrory Lane is not a state highway which meant involving Metro's input. The spokesperson said there was a desire to change the overall scheme of the area which added more time. Other reasons included more time spent looking at signal issues and changing the infrastructure. 

The spokesperson added that there are enough federal and state funds for CSX to install crossing arms although a completion date was not immediately known. 

TDOT plans to accept bids for contracts to start the safety project in the Fall.