(Greenville, South Carolina – May 8, 2018)
The tragic death on Tuesday of 57-year-old Ernestine Gina Dixon, a mother of three and grandmother to several, was being called “the unintended consequence of failing to act on the needs of the (Greenville, SC) neighborhood (Southernside) , a low income area just west of downtown where residents heavily rely on walking to get around,” by community leaders. Those leaders have long criticized the railroad’s removal of a bridge which provided safe passage over multiple Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks.
Dixon was struck about 2:30 P.M., EDT as she attempted to cross a system of nine Norfolk Southern tracks. She was reportedly struck by a CSX train which, along with several Amtrak trains daily, makes the crossing a tragedy looking for a place to happen as multiple railroads are involved. The train came to a halt at the West Washington Street Amtrak station. Greenville County Deputy Coroner Jeff Fowler pronounced Dixon deceased at the scene.
Daniel J. Gross, in a lengthy article published in last Friday’s edition of The Greenville News, chronicled the protracted debate that has long ensued after authorities first, in 1994, closed the Hampton Avenue overpass to vehicular traffic, but still allowed pedestrian traffic until the structure was ultimately torn down in 2012.
As a result of the bridge being torn down, a massive obstacle was created in the low-income community of Southernside, isolating its residents from safely traversing over the railroad tracks (and forcing them to create a now well-worn footpath to cross the tracks to get to stores and churches). The alternative for residents was a mile-and-a-half journey to another overpass. The same residents were repeatedly promised a new bridge over the tracks at Hampton Avenue, and construction was to start in 2016. It still hasn’t happened, even though Greenville County, SCDOT and Norfolk Southern continue to promise a new bridge.
“If the bridge would have been there, she (Dixon) would probably be here today,” lamented cousin Melissa McCullough to the news writer. “It shouldn’t take a death to get some stuff moving.”
If and when the bridge is eventually constructed, community activists feel it should be named in Dixon’s honor. “Her blood paved the way for this bridge so that others don’t have to experience such a tragic demise,” testified community activist U.A. Thompson to the Greenville newspaper.