July 13, 2006
The recent accident of a man being hit by a train in Charlottesville is putting railroad safety on the minds of many. While some kids are having fun riding their 4-wheelers on the tracks in Louisa County they are also putting more than just themselves in danger.
"If the condition gets serious enough, it could cause derailments of our trains," said Buckingham Branch Railroad General Manager Gale Wilson.
The condition Gale Wilson is talking about is the erosion on many of Louisa County's railroad tracks. Wilson says it comes from these 4-wheel riders caught on camera. The pictures are valuable when it comes to catching the riders, but its total has nothing on the cost of repairs.
"The damage that is done to our tracks in Louisa County alone, so far we estimate between $40,000 and $60,000 to repair the damage," added Wilson.
The Louisa County Sheriff's Office is trying to keep the repair bills low for Buckingham Branch Railroad by enforcing the 'no trespassing' law on tracks.
Not only a problem for Wilson's company, the riders are also annoying some residents.
"We get 4-wheeler calls all over the county, and it is a frequent call now at this time of the year," Major Donald Lowe of the Louisa County Sheriff's Office.
Police understand 4-wheeling is a fun sport. However, because of the shifting of rocks holding the tracks in place, they agree riding the 4-wheelers on the tracks is a legitimate problem.
Other calls come in because of noise levels.
"Sometimes, it's a legitimate problem, sometimes it's just a noise thing that seems to disrupt the peaceful nature of the neighborhood," added Major Lowe.
Regardless, police are enforcing the law. They have already arrested six people who did not stay off the tracks, and taken away two 4-wheelers.
The Louisa County Sheriff's Office said they are strongly considering the installation of surveillance cameras near the county's railroad tracks because of this problem.