(Bellevue, Tennessee – April 24, 2017)
The latest in a series of serious injury accidents at the non-gated CSX railroad crossing of CSX track and McCrory Lane early Monday morning has once again ignited a firestorm of debate over why, even with authority for the installation of gates has been given, CSX has failed to install the added protection of crossing gates.
This time, a 21-year-old local driver Alexander Peden was injured when he attempted to cross the single CSX track. The crossing accommodates an average of eight trains daily which can travel at a maximum allowable speed of 50 mph. Following the collision, Peden was rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, where he was admitted in critical condition. Looking at photos of the car provided by WKRN-TV Channel 2 News, the heavily-damaged vehicle barely resembled an automobile as it was crushed by the train. The collision resulted in tremendous driver’s side impact. The injured driver’s survival was nothing short of miraculous.
The wreck is the eighth collision to occur at the CSX/McCrory Lane rail/highway crossing. These collisions have resulted in 10 injuries. Following a June 14, 2014, an incident which was the third to occur in rapid succession that year, the TDOT authorized the installation of automatic gates. However, despite these repeated collisions, the installation of automatic gates has been delayed and is now scheduled to be installed later this year.
Both area residents and a State Representative to the Tennessee House have been critical of the crossing’s current design, which includes a significant hump and virtually non-existent vehicular storage space between the tracks and the parallel Charlotte Pike (Highway 70 South). These groups have also been highly critical of the numerous delays which have repeatedly reset completion dates for the safety project.
Nearby and long-term residents like Bernard Williams described the crossing as “dangerous” to WTVF News channel five on-the-scene reporter Matthew Torres. Williams told him that motorists coming off the parallel highway “can’t see the lights (the crossing is equipped with a pair of mast-mounted flashers) till they start to turn” onto McCrory Lane. Williams predicted that “If they don’t fix it soon, it’ll be too late!”
His sentiments were mirrored by the opinion of Tennessee State Representative Bo Mitchell, who told Channel Five “I don’t want to hear it’s CSX’s responsibility, (and) I don’t want to hear the driver shouldn’t have rolled across the tracks. Let’s fix the problem before someone is killed there.”
“We started in 2014 and it was going to be completed by February, 2015,” Mitchell told Channel Five’s Torres. “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 nothing has occurred.”
“A spokesperson with TDOT said the department has been working on the project for quite some time, and admits it’s become more complicated than initially thought,” reported Torres. The unidentified TDOT spokesman added that “there are enough federal and state funds for CSX to install crossing arms although a completion date was not immediately known.”