August 12, 2005
The next time you cross the railroad tracks, you may want to think twice. Charlottesville Police have already handed out 37 tickets so far this year. Cops are cracking down on people walking across the tracks.
Cross the tracks and get a ticket, Charlottesville Police said. The fine could cost you up to $250. Police have handed out two dozen tickets so far this year to people crossing near the 100 block of Avon Street under the Belmont Bridge.
"More people are communicating, meaning coming from Belmont or other parts of the city [to downtown crossing the railroad tracks]. It's not just Belmont, it's up by the University [of Virginia] and the University Hospital," said Blake Caravati, a City Council member.
Crossing the tracks is illegal however; the Charlottesville Police Department is strongly enforcing this law at the request of the railroad company.
"The railroad simply made a complaint and so our police are following the law as they should do and writing tickets. You shouldn't cross a railroad track. Even though it might appear to be safe, you can never assume that it is safe," said Caravati.
The Buckingham Rail Freight Line recently took over the lease of the line. Officials there said they've witnessed people run across the tracks in front of a train and they just don't want anyone to get hurt. Therefore, police are requesting people walk the extra block and cross on top of the Belmont Bridge.
"It's not that much further to be safe for your family and you and your children," said Caravati.
Officials said maybe the next time someone is looking for a short-cut to downtown they'll think twice.
A second offense of trespassing along the tracks within two years could mean up to a $500 fine, and a third offense carried up to a year in jail, and a fine up to $2,500.