Mayor wants rails, lights at train accident crossing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven and other city officials are planning a meeting to discuss possible changes at the railroad crossing where a high school student was killed nearly a month ago.

Niven said the city hopes to meet later this week with officials from the Alabama Department of Transportation.

Chelsea High School freshman Hannah Yeager, 15, was killed Nov. 7 when the SUV she was riding in with five other students collided with a train on County Road 337.

The accident that occurred that Monday afternoon might have been avoided had there been lights and guardrails informing the driver of the coming train, city officials said.

&8220;We are trying to come up with a recommendation to present that is the safest for the community,&8221; said Niven.

ALDOT will then take the city&8217;s recommendations and forward them to CSX, the company that owns the railroad that crosses 337, so further action can be taken.

The nation&8217;s railroad industry is regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Joe Gallant, who works in the accident branch of the FRA, said the agency doesn&8217;t have a hand in what occurs in cities and counties and can only regulate the companies operating the railroads.

&8220;We try to stress the safety issues of railroad crossings to counties and cities, especially when there is a dire need,&8221; Gallant said.

But based on procedures he has seen in the past, Gallant said it could take months before action is taken concerning the crossing on County Road 337