Safety improvements underway at deadly Harriman railroad crossing

HARRIMAN (WATE) – Work is now underway for safety upgrades at a railroad crossing in Harriman that was the site of a deadly collision. Rod Drummond and Jadah Gallaher were killed in a May 2014 crash. Jadah’s brother Darius and another young man, Hunter Crass, were injured.

The car they were traveling in was hit by a train at the crossing of U.S. 27 and Mountain View Road in Harriman. A slate of safety improvements were announced in January, funded by a federal grant.

Many homeowners are happy it’s finally happening, but are saddened it was because of an accident.

Previous story: Safety improvements approved for Roane County railroad crossing where 2 died

“Every day I think of them and I can’t imagine losing a child like that,” said Mischa Hallman.

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She says she’ll always remember the night of the accident.

“I heard the helicopters and the train hit, and the crash, and the screech, all of it. And it was horrible,” said Hallman.

Because of that it’s all different today. New signs, wider pavement, and striping farther back from the tracks now serve as a better warning for drivers.

“There are two more signs we’ll put up as soon as the contractor comes in and puts up the lights and bars,” said Dennis Ferguson, Roane County road superintendent.

These changes were possible because the highway department received a 100 percent federally funded grant.

“For our part it was about $18,000,” added Ferguson.

The safety measures were based on study by the highway department, Tennessee Department of Transportation and the railroad company. Engineers looked at the number of cars and trains that pass, the chances of a collision, visibility and speed.

“It’s going to be an improvement for the community and I hope it gives closure to the parents, the family, to see this getting done,” said Ferguson.

So far homeowners close by are pleased with what they see. “It’ll be safer for those of us who go in and out this way,” said Hallman.

Many still devastated the accident ever happened.

“They are a wonderful family and it just tore the community apart,” added Hallman.

The Gallaher family did not wish to make a statement. The Roane County Highway Department plans to meet with commissioners and the family to see if they can name this stretch of road in honor of Rod and Jadah.

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

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