Demand Safety and Accessibility of the Allene St Railroad Crossing! - Atlanta, GA
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On the afternoon of Saturday, July 8, Larry Seymour was making his way to the West End MARTA station. Larry did not own a car and walked and took MARTA to get around. He left his home on Elbert Street and halfway through his route, he encountered a parked Norfolk Southern train where the train tracks intersect Allene Street, blocking his path to the station directly on the other side of the tracks.
Larry had to make a decision. Does he wait for the train to resume its course and eventually pass? Of course not, because everyone in the community knows that the train could be there for hours. Does he call the complaint line and report the parked train to Norfolk Southern, the owners of the railroad tracks? No, because doing so in the past has never made a difference. Does he walk around the train tracks? He could, but the closest underpass is at least ten minutes away, which would add another 20 minutes to his journey.
So Larry did what many pedestrians in this community do when a parked train is blocking their path: he decided to go in-between two train cars and slide underneath the train car coupling. As he crossed beneath the coupling, however, the train began to move again. Unable to move out of harm’s way quick enough, Larry’s body got caught between the tracks and the moving train. He sustained fatal injuries and lost his life later that day.
All too often, our community members are faced with making this decision. Countless complaints to Norfolk Southern have yielded no action. Week after week, conductors continue to park across this intersection with no regard for the community or pedestrians affected. This disregard is business as usual. This disregard cost a man his life.
The Adair Park community is both saddened and enraged by Larry’s death. Saddened because we lost a good friend and neighbor. Enraged because his death was avoidable but no one listened when we complained about the severe inconvenience and risk posed by Norfolk Southern’s neglectful actions. The members of this community deserve better.
The Adair Park community demands immediate action to improve the safety and accessibility of the Allene St crossing. We demand that Norfolk Southern and any other user of these railroad tracks are prohibited from parking across the Allene St crossing, or any crossing that puts the public in harm’s way. We also demand that our elected officials, law enforcement, and governing bodies that oversee railroad safety take notice and use their positions of power to enforce policies that put the safety of constituents first and keep corporations accountable.
Life is too short and too precious. Larry’s death is a clarion call that above all else, we must prioritize life, safety and community.
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