Which railroad crossing is most dangerous?
Published 6:49 am Wednesday, October 23, 2013
The railroad track bisecting downtown Brewton is as much a part of the city’s history as timber and blueberries.
But the situation can cause some dangerous driving, as it did last week when two separate accidents in the area caused damage not only to vehicles but to buildings.
In the first incident on Wednesday, a driver who did not hear or see a train at the Deer Street crossing early that morning was hit by a train and totaled his vehicle.
In the second incident Friday night, an out-of-town driver unfamiliar with the Mildred Street crossing turned onto the tracks, rather than onto U.S. 31, then got caught and gunned it — slamming into another car and then into the Kut N Up salon.
The railroad crossings have been the site of a number of accidents over the years, according to federal records.
The Mildred Street crossing — the main intersection, which has a traffic light and train signal — has been the most dangerous, with 24 incidents dating back to 1975, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Five people have been injured and one killed during that span.
The Lee Street crossing — where there is no traffic light or signal, only a stop sign — has had 16 accidents and four injuries dating back to 1978.
The Deer Street crossing has been the site of seven incidents since 1977 — including a log truck wreck in 2009 that sent logs rolling into First Exchange Bank, narrowly missing customers and employees.
After that incident, a new crossing was erected, but it took some prodding from the city and cooperation from CSX railroad and the state Department of Transportation.
Brewton Mayor Yank Lovelace said the city has asked the state transportation department to look more closely at the crossings — particularly the one at Mildred Street, where there are not only accidents with trains but accidents as a result of crossing the tracks. There have been at least two incidents in which log trucks crossing the tracks overturned, sending logs into the road.