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Thursday, May 23, 2013

MARTA: Bus involved in train collision got 'stuck' on railroad crossing

MARTA officials say yesterday's early morning collision of a bus and train in Decatur that caused traffic slow to a crawl for several hours happened after the transit vehicle got "stuck" on the at-grade railroad crossing.

According to MARTA spokesman Lyle Harris, bus driver Donna McMullen was traveling northbound at the intersection of South McDonough Street and East Howard Avenue with four passengers and the vehicle couldn't move once it passed over the crossing. McMullen, a MARTA employee since 1994, followed emergency protocol and evacuated the passengers as the westbound train approached the stalled bus.

No injuries were reported but the bus suffered major damage, as this photo shows. According to MARTA, the vehicle has no known mechanical problems. McMullen took a mandatory drug and alcohol test and is now on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Some Decatur Metro commenters yesterday said that yesterday's collision wasn't the first time that a large vehicle has gotten stuck on the tracks - or even the first such crash. Anyone who travels along that road surely knows that the awkward layout of the various crossings can create bottlenecks when a train passes.

Decatur Planning Director Amanda Thompson told CL yesterday that plans are in the works to reconstruct two railroad crossings along College Avenue, including the one where the bus was struck. Those plans include "lowering the height of the intersection" and "four new gate arms to prevent stopping on the tracks and sidewalks." Here's an idea of what that might look like.

  • City of Decatur

Those plans, however, are going through the design approval process at the Georgia Department of Transportation, which Thompson says can take several years.

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