ATHENS, Texas (KETK) — Athens’s residents are raising their concerns over a dangerous local railroad crossing.
“It’s terrible,” said Athens resident Kate Vanderford. “We hate it. We always try to go around it.”
Since 2019, there have been at least two accidents at the crossing including when a school bus was hit by an oncoming train, resulting in the death of a student onboard and injuring another.
“It’s scary. It’s almost hit us before,” added Vanderford. “Because we always glance to our right and let off the brake. Well one time it came from the left with no horn. So, it’s very scary.”
Another resident who lives nearby the railroad tracks, Leticia Morales said she pulled her children out of school out of fear.
“This year, I took my kids out completely and I home school them,” she said. “That’s how scared I am that something is going to happen.”
Morales said she is frustrated as to why the city has not put up a railroad gate arm to protect drivers.
“It’s silence,” Morales said. “It’s like they’re not going to do anything.”
Mayor of Athens Aaron Smith said that new safety measures were discussed Monday night during a city council meeting.
“We already had an agenda item where we were going to address a Union Pacific Railroad and [they] made a proposal to us to close the road,” Smith said. “We decided that was going to create more safety issues.”
Smith said they will keep the road open and will add more safety precautions to the crossing in the near future.
“We [will] get railroad arms and safety lights at that intersection,” Smith added.
The city said they have been working for years on solutions to create a safer crossing.
City officials also said today there’s no current timetable on when safety lights and railroad arms will be added to the intersection.
For now, drivers will have to continue to be careful when crossing.