UPDATE: Rep. Robin Smith holds meeting to find solution for trains stopped at railroad crossings
UPDATE: A railroad crossing in Hixson is a constant source of frustration for drivers.
Trains stop for long periods of time, causing traffic backups.
State Representative Robin Smith held a public meeting on Tuesday night with officials from TDOT and railroad companies to try to come up with a solution to end this problem.
Railroad crossings on Thrasher Pike and Hamill Road have been problems for a while, because trains often stop them.
They cause delays for drivers, including first responders.
John Stuermer with emergency communications in Hamilton County says a train blocking an ambulance can become a matter of life and death.
"Seconds count. And when you are having to divert those units around, then it becomes problematic getting that response to those people that need help," Stuermer said.
Stuermer says if first responders had prior knowledge trains would block roadways, they could dispatch ambulances and other emergency vehicles to a different route.
Stuermer hopes this meeting will lead to solutions.
A recent study shows around 75 trains a day cross through Thrasher Pike and Hamill Road.
Representative Robin Smith says she's received many emails and phone calls about wait times, and has experienced it firsthand.
“There was a train that was literally parked on Thrasher Pike from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., so for three hours," Smith recalled. "And that is completely unacceptable."
Smith gathered state representatives and railroad companies to speak on the issue.
Tim Andrews from the Hamilton County Railroad Authority says economic growth is the cause of the recent rise in train traffic.
Andrews says businesses like Amazon and Volkswagen transport most of their products by rail.
"There is no easy solution on how you can build a new road around it or a detour or in some cases how you build a bridge across it. It's very difficult. As long as the railroad has those tracks through there and as much traffic as they have, there are going to be conflicts," Andrews said.
Andrews says they have applied for federal grants to fund projects in the past, but have been denied every time. He says they plan to make a stronger case to be approved and possibly put an end to this problem.
Stay with the WRCB app for updates to this story.
ORIGINAL STORY: Some residents in Hamilton County believe stopped trains are causing issues for drivers and first responders.
Tennessee state Representative Robin Smith, who represents Hixson an area many of the complaints come from, wants to find a solution to the problem.
She's holding a meeting Tuesday night at Abba's House with local and state officials, including T-DOT.
Video taken by a Channel 3 employee at Harrison Lane in Soddy Daisy shows the problem she's referring to, it shows an ambulance, with lights flashing, stopped at a railroad crossing for several minutes as a train goes by.
It's a scene all to familiar a couple miles away at The Dusty Depot near Grubb Road and Old Hixson Pike.
"We do see a lot of trains," Owner Ethan Goodowens said, "This is the main thoroughfare if people are trying to avoid the Hixson Pike/153 interchange. A lot of traffic."
The store is located just a few feet away from a railroad crossing.
"On a good day we see them about every 45 minutes. Some days we don't see many at all. But on heavy days it's more than one an hour," he added.
And sometimes, for unknown reasons he said, the trains stop leaving the intersection blocked for up to an hour causing crashes.
"We get a lot of traffic back ups. From time to time, trains will actually stop and we see people do some pretty crazy stuff trying to turn around and go the other direction," he said.
And while Goodowens believes trains are needed for the economy, he wonders if there's a better way for everyone to get from point A to point B.
"Maybe if they had warning lights at the last major intersection and just say 'Train Stopped, Consider Alternate Route?'" he said.
Channel 3 will have more on tonight's meeting on Eyewitness News at 11.