Safety improvements approved for Roane County railroad crossing where 2 died

HARRIMAN (WATE) – Major safety upgrades are coming to a railroad crossing in Roane County where two teens were killed in a crash last summer.

The accident happened in May 2014 at the crossing of U.S. 27 and Mountain View Road in Harriman. Rod Drummond and Jadah Gallaher were killed when a train hit their car. Jadah’s brother Darius Gallaher was seriously injured, as was Hunter Crass.

“You don’t think anything like that is going to happen. We heard the train hit the car. Oh, it was horrible, the grinding,” said homeowner Sheryl Poppe.

Roane County Highway Department learned Tuesday night they are receiving a 100 percent federally funded grant to help prevent crashes like that from happening again.

“It’s just heartbreaking, but we’re also glad that we were able to get on this and work with them, able to do something for this community in hopes that this will help save lives or an accident down the road,” said Road Superintendent Dennis Ferguson.

Changes include new signage which will be farther back on U.S. 27, as well as on both sides of the highway, repaving Mountain View Road and pushing the painted railroad crossing signs closer to the neighborhood by 500 feet.

“I think it’ll be a big help. I really do,” said Ferguson.

The railroad companies, local highway departments, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation will create an engineering study to look at the number of cars and trains that pass, the chances of a collision, visibility and train and car speed to determine which element would be best for the crossing.

“Only time will tell if it’s going to be saving, but any improvement would be better right now because one death is just too many,” said Poppe.

While there’s no timeline yet on when work will start, the Harriman community will always hold these families close to their hearts.

“When I go by and I see the memorial, I think, ‘Oh gosh  I hope everything is fine,'” added Poppe.

Another department will be responsible for installing flashing lights at the Mountain View Road and U.S. 27 railroad crossing.

Before the May 2014 crash, no deaths had been reported at the Mountain View Road and Highway 27 crossing in the last 30 years. The Tanglewood Drive crossing, which is close by, has seen at least three deadly crashes. Flashing lights were installed there in 2010.

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