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Train delay debate in Woodhaven leads to new signs on Allen Road

Posted at 6:56 PM, May 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-15 18:56:15-04

Railroad tracks near Allen Road and Van Horn in Woodhaven continue to cause delays for residents. Now city leaders say it could be a matter of life or death.

On Tuesday, Woodhaven Mayor Patricia Odette put up signs near the intersection requesting residents to call the Wayne County Executive Offices and complain about the delays. 

Longtime Woodhaven resident Robert Eliason was there.  He said the train delays have been a nuisance for him in the past, but last April the delays impacted his world forever.  He said it’s the reason his father lost his life.

"Had he not been stuck there for that amount of time, he would probably still be with us today,” Eliason said.

His father, Arvid Eliason, had tripped and fell, and was suffering from a brain bleed.  He was transported to Southshore Hospital by ambulance.

"The ambulance that was bringing him from Huron Township got stuck at the Van Horn tracks for 20 minutes, and as you know, when you're dealing with a head injury and bleed like that, every minute counts,” Eliason said. 

His father passed away the next day at the hospital. Eliason said he doesn’t know if the delay directly caused his father’s death, but that’s what he believes and he’s looking into legal action.

Mayor Patricia Odette said enough is enough. 

"By tying up these trains even minutes, especially hours, it could cost a life. It's about public safety,” she said.

Odette added that the ongoing problems mean the city gets overwhelmed with complaints about the delays and the railroad isn’t listening to her. She wants people to start calling the county.
"We can't take all the phone calls, all the texts, all the hammering we're getting. It's not in our jurisdiction. We've done our due diligence, (and) as a city we're ready,” Odette said. 

That’s why she put up the signs along Allen Road.  She said the road belongs to the county.   She wants the county to help pay to build an underpass for Allen Road so cars can get around.
"We need the county to step up and help secure further funding or give us the funding. We're ready to go. We're shovel ready,” she said. 

7 Action News contacted a Wayne County spokesman who said the county has requested federal funding for this project for the last five years, but it was denied.  He added that other funding isn’t available otherwise.