New traffic signs aim to keep wheelchairs away from tracks

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Signs that would seemingly prohibit wheelchairs from crossingthe railroad tracks on Cherokee Street are part of a recentlycompleted downtown repaving project, a Brookhaven officialsaid.

Director of Public Works Steve Moreton said the signs, whichdisplay a wheelchair with a red prohibition sign across it, wereplaced to increase safety at the busy intersection.

“You can’t prohibit the handicapped from crossing at a railroadcrossing,” Moreton said. “It’s not that they can’t cross it. It’sthat it’s not advised for them to cross there.”

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Moreton said officials were concerned that wheelchairs couldbecome stuck in the grooves between the rails and the pavement.

“You have to have that for the trains, obviously, but it poses asignificant danger to wheelchairs trying to cross,” he said.

Officials considered placing the signs at every railroadintersection.

However, they chose Cherokee Street because not only is there alot of traffic on the street but also because of the nearbyrailroad depot. The increased likelihood of passengers beingdropped off on the wrong side of the tracks boosted the potentialfor danger on the street.

“(Passengers) need to be dropped off on the right side for whereever they’re going,” Moreton said.

Another reason for the Cherokee Street location, he said, isthat area of downtown received the most work in making sidewalkshandicap accessible, increasing the potential for those inwheelchairs to be dropped off in the area.

Police Chief Pap Henderson said officers are not issuingcitations for disregarding the signs, but are warning people to payattention to them and to watch out for potential dangers.