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Leaders discuss changes to make Ashland railroad crossings safer

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ASHLAND, Va. – After two different trains hit two cars stuck on the railroad tracks in Ashland -- within 24 hours -- town leaders decided to look at making some changes.

Along with CSX and VDOT, Ashland leaders said change could come in the form of increased lighting and reflective barricades designed to keep cars from turning onto the tracks.

GPS providers are expected to be contacted to see if they can make sure drivers aren't being told to turn too soon, missing the road but veering onto the tracks.

Right now the two crossings under consideration for enhancements are the England Street Crossing and the Ashcake Road crossing.

Ashland Police completed a detailed analysis of railroad related accidents dating back to 2007.

They found 18 incidents involving cars or trucks on the tracks; four of those resulted in trains hitting the vehicles.

Officials also know of 12 other incidents of vehicles turning onto the tracks, but those were gone by the time officers arrived.

Most of the incidents happened at night, and 2016 saw the highest number with five total incidents.

Alcohol played a role in 67 percent of the incidents and 78 percent of the incidents were occurred at night.

"Anything that enhances the safety of people crossing that intersection and safety of people riding trains, all protects what I consider to be my town,” said longtime business owner and resident Hank Lowry.

"It's a situation I think can be remedied in some way, it's just a matter of getting the right people together and determining what that is,” said Dave Heflin, who has witnessed cars stuck on the tracks and works across from the double tracks.

Dozens of trains pass through the town every day on those tracks

"I don't think it's 100 percent avoidable but there should be more safety precautions for sure,” said Debra Mahanes, who works near the tracks. "People just got to be more aware