North Texas

Railroad Crossing Arms Remain Down Minutes on End With No Trains in Sight

Frustrated drivers have been taking matters into their own hands

A railroad crossing in Carrollton is causing big problems for some drivers.

An NBC 5 viewer reached out to us claiming the security gates that are triggered to lower when a train approaches stay down, sometimes for minutes on end, with no trains in sight.

Frustrated drivers have been taking matters into their own hands.

It's happening at the railroad crossing along West Frankford Road near Interstate 35E.

"Alright, it is 3 a.m. on August 15th," said Stacey Thompson while recording video on her cell phone. "This is probably about the ninth time this has happened, and I don't see any trains."

It's the last thing Thompson wants to encounter after a long night at work.

"I'm just like, 'Ugh! Not again,'" she said.

The train tracks are maintained by the Denton County Transportation Authority.

During the day, the crossing gates lower regularly as the A Train zooms by. Seconds after the train passes, the gates go up and drivers proceed through the crossing.

The problem, according to Thompson, is in the early morning hours between 1-3 a.m.

She said she's noticed the gates lower and stay lowered with no train in sight.

The delay led someone in another car to get out.

"They get out, they lift the arms, they wave people through," Thompson said.

In Thompson's seven-minute cellphone video recorded early Tuesday, one driver is seen on camera forcing their way underneath and around the lowered crossing arms.

Thompson says she's worried about her safety.

"Anything can happen, especially if there's nobody else. There have been times when we were literally the only people stuck," she said.

On Tuesday morning, Thompson called 911 and a Carrollton police officer responded.

The officer is seen on lapel and dash camera video physically raising the crossing arms and directing traffic.

Moments after the officer releases the gate, it comes back down.

"I think it's stupid because there's a lot of other things they could be doing other than monitoring a railroad track," said Thompson of the police resources being used when people call.

The Carrollton Police Department's spokesperson says this type of call for help is not completely unusual.

NBC 5 reported the issue with DCTA and asked its leadership what the problem is.

"It appears that a freight train activated the signals longer than we would've liked," said Jeffrey Bennett, assistant vice president of rail operations for DCTA.

DCTA says they have an agreement to allow Dallas Garland and Northeastern freight trains to use their tracks twice a week after passenger service ends.

"The crossing equipment itself is functioning properly," Bennett said. "It just appears to be an operating move that had been longer than we would've expected or liked."

As for the drivers or passengers taking matters into their own hands, Bennett said, "Under no circumstances should a motorist lift a gate."

DCTA urges drivers to call the number posted at all crossings for around-the-clock response to issues with the crossing: 972-790-0495.

"The signs for the number are really small, so I never even noticed them," Thompson said.

"We would definitely ask for [motorists'] patience," Bennett said. "Safety has always been DCTA's number-one priority. We'll continue to monitor our crossing sites to ensure our commuters are safe while traveling at our crossings."

DCTA told NBC 5 it would be sending a maintenance crew to the crossing in question at 2 a.m. on Thursday to ensure there were no delays.

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