(Chesapeake, Virginia February 13, 2017)
Two employees of Elite Contracting Services were injured early Monday morning at about 8:20 A.M., EST, as they attempted to drive their service truck they were in across Norfolk Southern railroad tracks. The collision took place at a notorious and unguarded private crossing in Chesapeake, VA.
The crossing where this accident occurred is a private crossing in the Deep Creek industrial area, off of the 3000 block of Yadkin Road. This was the ninth recorded collision to occur at this crossing which is not-equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with signals, such as lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. Both Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver know that lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies that have been conducted over fifty years ago confirm that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
Prior to Mondays near-tragedy, the most recent accident at the crossing occurred just less than a year ago on February 29, 2016. Records on file with the Federal Railroad Administration state the railroad tracks are used by an average of two dozen NS trains daily at speeds up to 25 mph. However, the records contradict themselves by indicating that the last train/truck collision was at 52 mph, and others were equally above any such 25 MPH speed restriction.
The double-tracked crossing leads to a trucking facility, which requires drivers to stop and open a gate to enter the yard. The storage space between the gate and tracks is so short that it barely, if at all, allows safe storage space for any vehicle, especially a large truck as was the case Monday, to have to stop for the entrance gate without fouling the railroad tracks.