Dangerous curve near railroad crossing worries neighbors

Posted at 6:30 PM, Jul 24, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-24 19:57:11-04

HANOVER, Va. (WTVR) - Some neighbors who live along Route 54 in Hanover said they’re hoping for some safety changes near a railroad crossing.

The area of concern is near the Route 54/Pamlico Road intersection. “It’s a 55 mile per hour area and I think some people just don’t anticipate the train,” said Doug Burton.

He said the road near his Hanover home is a tricky one. For thirty years he and his wife Linda have lived near that intersection, and just yards away from a railroad crossing.

Although Virginia Dept. of Transportation and Hanover officials note nice crashes since 1990, Burton said he’s still seen more close calls than he can count.

“If you are coming from the Ashland direction you are coming through a curve and you might run up on the back of standing traffic. So, 55 miles per hour at this crossing is a little unreasonable," added Burton.

The couple said their big concern is for drivers who don’t know the road. “They jump off of 95 and cut across to 301,” he said. “They’re the ones in the most trouble because they’re not anticipating this crossing.”

Burton took time out to show us some skid marks that show where a car ran off the road and into the wooded area on his property. He said too often cars fly around a nearby curve not knowing there’s a train crossing coming up. When cars line up to wait for the train to pass, that can be a problem.

“You hear wheels squealing all the time where people come up on the railroad crossing and try to stop real quick to stop from running into the back of somebody," said Linda Burton.

CBS 6 did spot warning signs posted just before the railroad crossing, but the Burtons think more could be done to make the road safer. Their hope is that VDOT would consider reducing the speed limit from 55 to 45.

“Maybe they could also move that warning sign up further because by the time you see the sign you are almost up on it,” she added.

Dawn Eischen, a VDOT spokesperson, said the warning signs are required to be 250 feet from the railroad crossing. In this instance, she said they are providing double the amount of warning recommended by the guidelines.

As for the speed limit, Eischen said it’s been in place since 1994.  She explained that based on the amount of cars per day (3,600 cars) and the design of the road, it’s appropriate.

VDOT plans to send an engineer out again to the area to check things out to see if other improvements are warranted. Stay with CBS 6 for any new developments in this story.