High-speed rail plan could fix issue at Chester railroad intersection

High-speed rail plan could fix issue at Chester railroad intersection

CHESTER, VA (WWBT) - Neighbors say a railroad crossing in Chester is dangerous and something needs to be done. Now, there are preliminary plans to fix up Curtis Street.

Problem is, those plans could be decades away from becoming reality.

It's a horrible reality too many people have faced - mangled metal after cars are pulverized by passenger trains at the Curtis Street train crossing in Chester. Theresa Newbrough lives nearby and crosses these tracks several times a day.

"I avoided it for years," said Newbrough.

An accident report from Chesterfield County Police shows incidents involving a train at the intersection - there are three in the last three years. One fatal, one with serious injuries, and in the third, the victim was unharmed but her car was totaled.

But Theresa says there are problems that don't always involve a train collision. She says just two weeks ago, she and her neighbors responded to a group of people who made a wrong turn over the rails and ended up, like so many others, trapped on the tracks.

"They didn't know the road and got turned sideways over here, and you can see the scratch marks," said Newbrough. "[The front of the car] was facing this direction and the scratch marks are right there in the middle."

One of the problems with this intersection is the intense incline that leads up to the railroad tracks.

The Southeast High Speed Rail Project is eventually going to build a track from Richmond to Raleigh, North Carolina. When it comes through this section, the plan right now is to build an elevated track that would put the train up over the road so traffic can pass smoothly underneath it and eliminate this problem.

"We want to make sure that we're leaving enough room for pedestrian facilities, so that we're leaving enough room for sidewalks in the underpass, that road underpass," said Emily Stock with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

The plan for the stretch of high-speed rail through Chester, although very preliminary, would also take a huge bend out of the road and straighten it out, making it safer for drivers and providing quick travel up and down the east coast.

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