CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Members of a Chesterfield County mobile home community are asking for change as trains have been stopping on nearby tracks and blocking access to their neighborhood for hours at a time.
Chesterfield County leaders held a community meeting to address their concerns at the VDOT Richmond District office on Tuesday. County leaders told 8News CSX trains have been blocking the entrance along Pine Forest Drive for maintenance repairs or to switch out conductors for longer trips.
Millside residents said the blockage would cause heavy traffic and prevent them from entering or exiting their neighborhood. Sara Romig, who lives along Pine Forest Drive, said the delays have created quite the headache.
“Sometimes it’s hours on end,” she said. “One time I’ve offered somebody, their toddler some clothes because their toddler had an accident and they couldn’t get across to get to the home. So, I had to help them. I tried to help them as much as I could.”
David Tate, who’s been living in the Millside community for nearly 40 years, calls the frequent delays a hazard.
“If we have an emergency, we’re in real trouble,” he said.
Tate said a two-and-a-half-hour train stop caused him to arrive at work late.
VDOT and county leaders proposed an emergency notification alert through text message to inform residents of any hold-ups at the railroad crossing. However, Tate said that’s not the only thing they need.
“Eventually VDOT will open the back gate and let us go out through there, but we actually need another exit,” he said.
VDOT told 8News there’s an emergency access road near the community. The northern part of the road is near Woods Edge Road and it’s owned by a private company. It’s mostly located on VDOT’s property, so the agency maintains it.
The gates are usually kept locked for security reasons and they could only be opened by personnel in an emergency situation.
“I just hope they can figure it out quickly,” said Romig.
Over the next few weeks, county leaders said they’ll work with residents to get them signed up for that text alert.
8News has reached out to CSX but hasn’t received a response.