Police Warn Drivers After Close Call At Railroad Tracks

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A close call on local railroad tracks has police warning drivers about the dangers of a heavily-traveled crossing.

Powell Police say it's only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured or killed at the crossing.

The crossing is question is on State Route 750 near Liberty Street, in the heart of downtown Powell.

Ohio Operation Lifesaver, a rail safety group, calls a vehicle-train collision there "inevitable"

There are warning signs. There are flashing lights and chiming bells. And, there's the unmistakable bellow of an approaching train.

Despite all that, the railroad crossing at State Route 750 remains, in the view of Powell Police Chief Gary Vest, “dangerous.”

Vest says the factors contributing to the hazard are several.

"Because of the elevation of the track, and because of the high volume of cars that are now crossing this roadway," he said. "State Route 750 and Liberty, there are no turn lanes. So if a car makes a left turn at the light, and there's any traffic, it stops traffic all the way up.  You're driving along, you're doing the speed limit, all the traffic is flowing, and then all at once, you're brought to a complete stop. And that stop may put you on the railroad tracks."

And that's just what happened last Wednesday, as captured by a police department camera.

The video shows traffic stopped, leaving a car on the tracks as the crossing bars start to come down and a train approaches.

"These people are literally road-blocked in by traffic in front and behind them where there's no place for them to go,” described Vest.

The first car made it out, but a gold SUV was trapped.

The driver veered onto the sidewalk literally seconds before the train barreled through.

"I don't know how anyone could look at that video and not see a sense of urgency," said Vest.

"It's a concern of mine for sure," said Robin Barzikowski.

She’s lived and worked in the area for years and says cars stopped on the tracks there is a daily occurrence.

Vest says the potential solutions are being studied, but answers won't come quickly.

In the meantime, drivers are on notice, and police are watching.

“Our goal is not to write the citations,” he said. “Our goal is to try to prevent somebody from getting killed on those tracks."

Some relief could be on the way.

Vest says the extension of Murphy Parkway is expected to relieve some of the congestion in this area.
But that won't be completed until 2015.