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Rail traffic resumes, but questions remain about Collegedale train collision, derailment

Image: NewsChannel 9 SkyView camera.
Image: NewsChannel 9 SkyView camera.
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UPDATE (Thursday):

Collegedale Police announced Thursday that things will be a little different at this rail crossing in the coming days.

A Facebook post says,

1. All trains going through Collegedale will not exceed 25 mph until at least January 3rd. The normal speed is approximately 45 mph.
2. The crossing arms/sensors at the railroad crossing at University Drive and Apison Pike will not be correctly programmed until January 3rd. Until that time the arms will go down while trains are 3,500 feet away and will remain down until the last train car is 3,500 feet past the crossing. This might make people think that the crossing is broken and some motorists may try to snake through the crossing when no train is in sight due to the excessive amount of time the arms will remain down. DO NOT do that! No one wants a repeat of the train crash incident due to motorists trying to beat the crossing arms. Law enforcement will be strongly enforcing railroad crossing safety laws.

Depend on us to keep you posted.

UPDATE (December 21st, 10:20p.m.):

Collegedale police say Apison Pike at Four Corners to University Drive is now open to all vehicle traffic. The railroad crossing at Apison Pike and University Drive remains closed to vehicle traffic at this time.


The driver of a truck that was stuck on train tracks, causing a derailment in Collegedale Tuesday has been identified by police.

The Collegedale Police Department says the driver is 64-year-old Jorge Luis Cruz-Vega.

Charges against Cruz-Vega are pending until the investigation is finished, Collegedale police say.

The Collegedale Police Department says they were not notified of the truck carrying the oversized load that was struck by the Norfolk Southern train.

They say the company responsible for transporting the load hired two escort cars for the tractor trailer. One escort car was in front and another behind the oversized load when the train struck.

All permits for oversized load escorts are granted through the Tennessee Department of Transportation, according to Collegedale police.


Rail traffic resumed Wednesday morning at the site of Tuesday's train collision and derailment, Collegedale Police say.

The accident, which was caught on video, injured two Norfolk Southern workers and closed a busy intersection near both McKee Foods and Southern Adventist University (SAU). We learned Wednesday morning the workers have since been released from the hospital. A Norfolk Southern spokesperson says cleaning up the mangled rail cars could still take a couple of days. During the process, the railroad will decide to scrap the cars or try to recover them.

Right now, that spokesperson says it's unclear who will pay for the cleanup.

In another post, Collegedale Police said Apison Pike at Four Corners remains closed to all traffic heading towards McKee and S.A.U. The Collegedale Greenway is also closed from the Thatcher’s Switch Park to the duck pond on SAU campus.

We're working to learn more about how exactly Tuesday's accident happened.

Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT_ officials say a truck driver was sitting across the tracks with a 134-foot bridge beam when the train struck it. The driver was unable to move across the tracks because he was stopped at a red light on Tucker Road, TDOT says. That driver wasn't hurt.

Our video shows the truck is owned by Starette, an Augusta, Georgia- based trucking company that specializes in transporting large items like bridge beams.

Here's what regulations by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) say a trucker should do when crossing a railroad near a red light:

"Other vehicles, particularly long loads, may exceed the space available between highway-rail crossings and nearby highway-highway intersections or traffic control devices. This creates a situation in which a load may become stuck on the tracks during a red light. These situations must be avoided. A load vehicle should never start across a track or series of tracks unless the load can traverse all the tracks without stopping and without shifting."

Several companies remained on site Wednesday to help with the cleanup.

Hamilton County Hazmat says they already finished their part of the cleanup.

"It was a very big incident and pulling up to find out that there were no significant injuries, no hazmat involved in the train was a big relief," says C.J. Davis, Hazardous Materials Officer for Hamilton County.

Davis says his team worked to contain the diesel that leaked out of the locomotives and into Wolftever creek below.

"We had crews working at the site of the wreck and also due to the topography, the closest area we could get to the creek with access was Wolftever Elementary," says Davis.

R.J. Corman railroad group focused on reconstructing the railroad tracks and by late morning, trains moved past once again.

We asked Norfolk Southern about their plan for the leftover debris and destroyed box cars. They told us they are still assessing that damage.

With this much damage, comes a pricey cleanup. Norfolk southern says they can’t speculate on who will foot the bill.

We're digging deeper into the questions raised by this accident. Check this story later for updates.

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Read more: After Collegedale train derailment, expert warns of dangers of stopping on the tracks

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