Westside railroad crossing to be repaired

Drivers say fix for rough crossing overdue

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The railroad crossing on Beaver Street, also known as U.S. Highway 90, at Wamsley Road on the Westside will be closed for repairs from 9 a.m. Saturday until about 5 p.m. Monday.

Beaver Street at Wamsley Road is between Ellis Road and Lane Avenue. The intersection will be closed to all cars and people while workers fix the railroad, a project residents and drivers say is overdue.

"There is several trains that come in through here every day, so with as much local traffic and train traffic that goes through here, it should have been taken care of a while ago," mechanic Corey Smith said.

It's the rough ride over the tracks that commuters are tired of.

"It's rough, it's real rough trying to get over it," Smith said. "People are crossing over the yellow line to try to find a smooth spot in the railroad tracks to cross over."

It's so bad, drivers have been worried about damage to their cars.

Smith, who works at an auto shop right by the railroad tracks, says the tracks' current condition could harm a vehicle, especially lower riding cars.

"It's definitely bad," he said. "It could cause a lot of damage to someone's suspension in the vehicle, not to mention the tires."

Smith said those who drive in the area know the bad railroad crossing well.

"When we tell people how to get to our shop, we tell them the really bad railroad tracks on Beaver Street," he said. "And there's actually a skull and cross bones sign that someone put up a while back next to it to let people know how bad they are."

Brent Withers says he has to drive over the tracks several times a week, and he's almost been in a crash because people slam on the brakes to avoid hitting bad spots in the tracks.

"Cars, if you go to stop, some of them try to rear-end you because they're having to hit their brakes hard," Withers said. "Sometimes cars are having to swerve out to miss it, so you're going in the other lane."

The repairs will replace the railroad track completely with a new heavy duty concrete surface to give drivers a smoother ride over the crossing.

Because Beaver Street and Wamsley Road will be closed, drivers can take an alternate route like Interstate 10 or Lane Avenue to get around the closure. They can also take Ellis Road, Highway Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue as a detour.

"I think it's a long time coming," Withers said. "It should have already been done, but yes, we're happy now, and I think it will solve a lot of problems."

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