Hahira community questions railroad crossing safety after deadly train crash

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 6, 2018

HAHIRA, Ga. (WCTV) – A Lowndes County railway resumed normal activity on Tuesday after a deadly crash on the tracks just 24 hours earlier.

A train collided with a C&S Rail Services truck at the crossing on West Lawson Street. The crash killed the driver of the truck.

Now, some in Hahira are asking if it could happen again, and if the crossing needs to be closed.

“I really don't think it is a safe crossing point in town,” says Christine Onorati, a Hahira resident. “There are other areas that are better to cross at."

The deadly accident earlier this week made residents remember others in years past.

“We have had a few accidents,” says Hahira Mayor Bruce Cain. “I think in 1996 we did have a fatality. A young girl that was eight years old.”

“A friend of mine, it was years ago,” says Onorati. “They did lose a family member. It was her grandparents that were killed at that crossing.”

Those fatal crashes cause some to avoid the crossing all together.

“Whenever I have to cross the track, I usually use the one right here on Main Street because it isn't a good area to see when the train is coming,” says Onorati.

Last week, Norfolk Southern railroad company requested Hahira’s City Council to close the crossing. They offered the city $40,000 in incentives for extra safety measures and additional parking.

The Council voted to table a decision until March.

“A lot of the residents do not want it closed. My take on it all the years we've been approached with it is we either need to close it or have safety gates put up,” says Mayor Cain.

The biggest concern on Lawson Street is minimal signage. In comparison, the neighboring crossings have lights and arms.

"It doesn't have the cross bar that comes down, it's only a stop sign at that location,” says Onorati.

“That's just one of the crossings that has never been signalized,” says Mayor Cain. “I'm not sure why.”

Mayor Cain says the council could vote to keep or close the crossing at a public hearing. He also says the $40,000 incentive deal is still on the table.

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