(Norfolk, Virginia – August 17, 2011)
Norfolk, VA’s 11-station light rail commuter passenger train service, “The Tide”, will not even launch until this weekend, but already has experienced two crossing collisions with highway-type vehicles as it tests its equipment.
In less than a week, a Toyota vehicle was clipped by a Tide test train, and Tuesday, a man driving a van with handicapped license plates was spun completely around when a Tide train hit it at the intersection of Second Street and Brambleton Avenue. Yet, management of The Tide system defends its decision against using crossing gates to help prevent such accidents.
Hampton Roads Transit, which oversees The Tide operations, says that “signals and signage are enough to maintain safety and crossing arms aren’t required at the train stops downtown,” an official told the news media.
HRT Spokesman Tom Holden says “the system is safe, and it worked well in both instances where we’ve had accidents,” he said. When TV stations WTKR and WVEC asked about Charlotte, NC’s light rail system, “The Lynx”, and its policy to install crossing gates at all 21 of its grade crossings, the HRT spokesman reiterated that “We have every reason to believe that our system is safe, because it is safe and we know that the signals and signs in place are sufficient for alert drivers to navigate without any risk.”