Railroad safety being studied at fatal train crash site

The Harriman community has been rallying for safety improvements at railroad crossings. 6-9-14

(WBIR-Harriman) TDOT said it is studying the railroad crossing safety at the site of a train versus car crash that killed two Roane State Community College basketball players and injured two students last month.

On May 30th, the Tennessee Highway Patrol said the driver of the car, Darius J. Gallaher, 20, did not see the train, which slammed into the vehicle and pushed it down the tracks.

Related Story: 2 killed in Harriman train crash

While there is a sign, there are no lights or crossing arms, which led Tasha Clayborne to create a facebook page to promote safety improvements at all Roane County railroad crossings.

Related Story: Harriman community rallies for railroad crossing safety improvements

"I hope we raise enough awareness to where we will get crossbars down there. We will get crossbars in a lot of other places too., maybe later on down the road. It would be nice to see a lot more safety issues taken care of," said Clayborne.

Monday, TDOT said Clayborne's goals could be within reach, since crews will study that crossing and two similar crossings on State Route 327.

"Representatives from the state will be there. We'll have representatives from local city or county officials as well. Folks from the railroads will be represented as well," said Mark Nagi, TDOT Spokesperson for Region Five. "We'll take all of that information together and make a decisions on whether safety improvements are necessary."

TDOT said it takes many factors into consideration, including the average daily traffic on the highway, number of train movements per day, maximum train speed, and crash history, if any.

"We looked into our records and for at least the past thirty years there haven't been any reports of accidents or crashes at that location in Roane County until that fatal crash," said Nagi.

Nagi said since funding is limited, priority is given to crossings that have a greater likelihood of a collision occurring.

"Certainly there are limited dollars that are available, and for any project throughout the state. We are reliant on a lot of federal funding in a lot of cases and the priority will go to those areas where the funding is most needed," said Nagi.

TDOT officials said the study at the crossing where the fatal crash occurred will be expedited, and could happen within the next few weeks.

Over the weekend, Hunter Crass, 22, from Harriman, was released from the hospital and has been recovering at home.

As of Monday, Darius Gallaher was still in the hospital.

The accident killed Jadah Gallaher, Darius' sister and a member of the women's basketball team, and Roderick Drummond, 22, from Greeneville, South Carolina, who played on the men's team.


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