DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Some Dallas County Schools bus drivers complain a DART rail crossing in Richardson is hazardous because of built-in blind spots.
The route from the Richardson Service Center, which drivers must take to pick up and drop off kids from school, takes them immediately to a DART rail crossing. Seconds into their trip, they say their vision is blocked by overgrown trees and a big DART signal house.
Driver Jerrine Vincent points to the view, saying, "Here you've got this box, and again these trees. God forbid these should ever fail, these signals, because you're on your own to make sure."
She adds, "You just need to be able to see and hear a train rather than just have to rely on those arms."
Vincent and drivers from the United Labor Unions local 100 complained of what they say are many blind intersections, but this they claim is the worst.
"It's pretty dangerous," claims Benny Douglas. He says overgrown trees and a large shed, which houses signal components block his view. Drivers say it is especially hazardous when two trains arrive from different directions one after the other.
"Biggest fear? Getting hit by a train," he says. "If you're halfway across that track and that arm's coming down you're going to tear that arm off and try to get that bus across."
The buses rarely have children at this point in their trips, though occasionally they do.
CBS 11's Bud Gillett asked the nearest property owner if her tenants, including a private school, had ever complained.
"I haven't…I haven't had any experience with people worrying about that," says Patrice Morin-Spatz of the Buckingham Business Center. "No one has said anything about it to us at all."
No one from Dallas County Schools would go on camera, but told us in an e-mail all bus drivers must stop at all such crossings and look and listen; it's the law.
Neither DCS nor DART claim they knew there was an issue until the union's news conference was announced Thursday.
DART says it has now scheduled tree trimming, and CBS 11 saw a supervisor there this afternoon. But the signal house is located in the only place it can physically go.
As for concerns about a power failure on the barrier arms, DART spokesman Mark Ball said, "If there's no power out there they come down automatically; and by law you're not allowed to cross if the train's crossing arms are down." In that case, the barriers would completely block the crossing to vehicle traffic.
Ball says any citizen who wants to point out problems can call 214.749.3333, or 214.979.1111, or fill out an e-mail form at www.dart.org
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