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Chesterfield community trapped behind train crossing demanding answers from county

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 10:27 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2021 at 11:15 PM EST
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - Sabrina Bogan has been living in Chesterfield’s Millside trailer home community for more than 15 years, and ever since, she says the community has been plagued by one thing: trains stopping in the middle of the tracks for hours at a time.

“It’s just a pain. It’s a big problem, and everybody gets mad,” said Bogan. ”You’ve got somewhere to go shopping, or you have to go to work, and it always seems to be the most inopportune time.”

The latest incident happened on Thanksgiving around 6:30 p.m. after a CSX train collided with a Chevy Silverado pickup truck at the Pine Forest Drive train crossing. The incident caused the railroad crossing to be blocked for several hours, causing a traffic jam on either side as police, VDOT and CSX investigated.

No one was injured in that incident, and Chesterfield police are still investigating the crash. But Bogan says there doesn’t have to be an accident for the trains to randomly block the only entry or exit point out of Millside for hours at a time.

“It happens at least once a month,” said Bogan. “I don’t think it gets stuck. It actually stops; they actually stop the train.”

Aside from the train crossing, there is only one other emergency exit, but it can only be opened by VDOT, a facility neighboring the Millside community. Bogan says the emergency exit is unreliable because in the hours it took authorities to clear the train accident and the road, VDOT had only just opened the emergency exit.

To this day, Bogan is still not sure why the train has to stop in the middle of the train crossing and for so long, but she fears what may happen if neighbors are trapped and experience an emergency.

“What if there’s an emergency? What if something catches fire while that train is blocking the road? You’re out of luck,” said Bogan. “One time in the middle of the night, we had to actually crawl under it to get home; we were passing kids under the train to get home.”

For years, Bogan felt Millside’s concerns were ignored, so they contacted 12 On Your Side to investigate the issue. Bermuda District Supervisor Jim Ingle and the Chesterfield Department of Transportation say they are aware of the problem and are looking into it.

VDOT provided a separate statement which says:

“As always, we appreciate drivers’ patience during crashes that block all or part of a road. We work closely with our emergency service partners on scene to reopen roads as safely and quickly as possible, providing traffic control and detours as needed. If an emergency occurs and a crash is blocking the sole access point for a road, we work with emergency services to ensure that resources are prioritized to provide assistance.”

Neighbors say they would like the county to create a secondary entry point that can bypass the train tracks so that the community doesn’t have to rely on VDOT to open the emergency exit to get out of Millside safely.

Bogan only hopes those concerns are heard in time before this community gets stuck again.

“We have a problem. We have a real problem - one that does need to be addressed in a timely manner,” said Bogan. “It is a big issue, and big issues deserve immediate attention.”

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