SPRING HILL, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Spring Hill train crossing has become a focal point of citizen frustration and emergency responder concern.
Residents say almost every day the CSX train stops on the tracks, sometimes for 30 minutes, saying it’s not only frustrating but also dangerous.
A Maury County bus driver videotaped the train recently, saying, “This is every day. It’s ridiculous.” The driver added she had already called GM and CSX. “I’m about to call the president,” she said.
In addition to the frustration, the bus driver says she is concerned for her children’s safety.
“Hold up these school busses that do not have air conditioning and we are packed full of kids,” she says. “It is ridiculous. Ridiculous.”
Karen Whitaker is a grandmother who lives nearby the railroad crossing and she says the train blocks traffic frequently.
“I went to the Shell station, which is a mile away,” she said. “It took me about an hour to go there and back.”
Whitaker added it is an inconvenience nearly everyday, but she also fears it could be dangerous to residents, including her and her young grandsons.
“Big concern for the residents,” she said. “One day last week it was blocked off from about 12 o’clock until 5 o’clock.”
Police are also growing concerned with the inability for emergency personnel to access the western part of the city.
“We’ve had a lot of calls about the train blocked the tracks for upwards of 30 to 45 minutes,” Det. Mike Foster with Spring Hill police said.
According to Foster, Beechcroft is the fastest way from downtown to western parts of Spring Hill. But when the train stops a two-mile drive becomes nine miles.
He said the alternate route takes about 17 minutes to drive.
“One minute is a lifetime, so 17 is about 17 lifetimes. It is long,” Det. Foster said.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation said there are plans to extend Beechcroft Road to Saturn Parkway. The project calls for a grade separated railroad crossing, which will alleviate traffic.
Spring Hill city officials said it could still be several years away since TDOT is still buying property.
“The project is still in the design phase. The plan is to extend to Saturn Parkway to Beechcroft Road,” BJ Doughty with TDOT said. “The project also includes additional improvements on Beechcroft Road, including constructing a grade-separated railroad crossing, which will improve safety and congestion on the roadway. TDOT has a State Industrial Access project and safety project in the works on Beechcroft, and the Saturn Parkway extension will also help to alleviate some of the operational issues on Beechcroft.“
She continued, “We are currently preparing for the right of way phase, will soon be buying property. Following that, construction letting will depend on the availability of funding. As you know, GM has recently made significant investments in the Spring Hill plant. TDOT does see this project as important to the continued economic development of the area.”
CSX also released a statement that said it strives to be a good neighbor in the communities were there trains operate.
“Our goal is to provide safe, reliable service for customers in the Spring Hill area, while minimizing the impact our operations may have on the public. CSX representatives have spoken with Spring Hill police and listened to their concerns and the concerns of the community. We are coordinating a meeting with the police chief to discuss some ways we might address those concerns while still serving our customers in the area. CSX appreciates the community’s patience and understanding as we work through this issue, and we are committed to keeping an open line of communication with our neighbors,” said Laura Phelps with CSX.