Columbus residents say train crossing lights, arms often malfunction

Columbus residents say train crossing lights and arms are malfunctioning
Shakera Collins (Source: Muscogee County Sheriff's office)
Shakera Collins (Source: Muscogee County Sheriff's office)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The driver of a Sunday night car crash with a moving train was arrested for DUI after being released from Midtown Medical Center.

Despite the role alcohol allegedly played in this accident, witnesses say they're not surprised an accident happened on those tracks since they say the warning signs malfunction often.

"The car was driving, probably more likely thinking the train wasn't coming because of the fact that the light always goes off without there actually being a train," said one witness to the accident.

On Sunday night first responders were called to the scene of 35th Street and 9th Avenue off River Road in Columbus after a driver tried to cross the train tracks while ignoring flashing lights and a sounding horn.

Shakera Collins, 23, was later arrested for DUI, but many who live nearby say alcohol aside, the accident might still have happened since they say warning equipment goes off, even when a train isn't in the area.

"It happens all the time, all the time. So, it's happened enough that some people have started to ignore it because of the fact that it goes off all the time," said that same witness to the crash.

WTVM crews have witnessed similar issues across Columbus, like at the Williams Road crossing on the North side of towns. Safety arms and lights have stayed down, blocking the road even after the train has passed. We witnessed the equipment still in action up to 10 minutes after a train went through.

Some children who witnessed Sunday's accident say a 10-minute delay is nothing compared to the time train crossing equipment is wrongly going off near River Road.

"One time we were going to school and that light was on for like two days, three days straight. We had to go around it because we think that a train is coming so we just, the bus just turns all the way around," said the girls.

News Leader 9 reached out to Columbus' traffic and engineering department for more information. They tell us as of Monday they have no comment on the accident.

WTVM also reached out representatives with Norfolk Southern, whom the city says is responsible for maintaining the crossings. They have not yet returned our calls.

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