Troubled tracks: Motorist claims rough crossing in Marietta damaged his car
March 22, 2013 12:19 AM | 5431 views | 8 8 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Motorists get a warning before crossing the CSX railroad tracks on Kennesaw Avenue in Marietta.<br>Kelly J. Huff
Motorists get a warning before crossing the CSX railroad tracks on Kennesaw Avenue in Marietta.
Kelly J. Huff
New signs announce a rough crossing over a railroad on Kennesaw Avenue.

The signs may have been a result of a Marietta man taking action after crossing the tracks and damaging his vehicle.

Clint Smith was traveling home from work on the same route he takes daily over Kennesaw Avenue. He was going the speed limit, he said.

“I heard a big bang when I crossed the tracks that day and didn’t notice any damage until I got home,” Smith said. “Then I realized my car was leaking oil. It drilled my oil pan.”

Smith said he had to have his car towed to the mechanic and spent more than $900 to have it fixed.

He contacted John Gerard, aka “Commuter Dude, at 11Alive, took a video of the rail crossing showing a car scraping the same way he had, and then sent the video to the newscaster. Gerard submitted a complaint to the city, but may not have been the only person to do so.

“I’ve got a picture of the cement by the tracks with hundreds of scrapes from the bottoms of cars,” Smith said.

Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin said he hasn’t heard complaints about the Kennesaw Avenue crossing, and he believes CSX made repairs on that crossing and three others within the last six months.

“I drive over the Kennesaw Avenue crossing quite a bit, and I’m happier with it now more than I was before,” Tumlin said.

Since Smith’s contact with Gerard, the new “rough crossing” signs popped up in both directions approaching the crossing, but Smith said he doesn’t know who is responsible for those new signs.

Jim Wilgus, city engineer, said the city put up the new signs in response to a citizen complaint.

Smith’s goals in bringing attention to the crossing were to be reimbursed for his damage and to prevent it from happening to others, he said.

While his first goal may be a long shot, he seems to have already accomplished his second.
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Daily Commuter
March 26, 2013
I drive over this RR track every day, as well as the other ones in downtown Marietta that were "fixed" by CSX recently. The Kennesaw Ave track is actually WORSE now than before. Take a test drive over each crossing (one right after the other) and you will see the difference. CSX did a sloppy job at Kennesaw Ave! Hopefully no tax dollars were contributed to the mess.
Not So Fast
March 22, 2013
I have actually driven over this myself and had the same problem. I damage my oil pan, gasket, and left axle. By all means I am not siding with this dude but why not try and get the city to pay for it? You have to top your hat off to this gentleman for being smart enough to get it reimbursed; I wish I would have thought the same when it happened to me.
Just Wait
March 22, 2013
If this driver uses the same route every day, you would think that by now he would know the grade crossing is rough and take the appropriate action and slow down before crossing. However, common sense and reason are in short supply these days.
Toot This...
March 22, 2013
I doubt his claims, but it is a rough crossing - as is Whiltlock Ave AFTER CSX "fixed" it. Why can't they make those two as smooth as Waverly Way?
Mike P
March 22, 2013
I don't know about this one...I know well the location where this gentleman claims he hit his oil pan on Kennesaw Avenue.

I have traveled over that RR Crossing hundreds of times in the years that I worked in Smyrna, and lived in Kennesaw.

I drive a 1996 Chevy Cavalier Z24, which has a factory ground-effects package installed on it, which means that there are body panels on my vehicle which are actually lower to the road than the frame or any part of the engine, including the oil pan, by, at minimum, 2 inches.

I will admit here that I have personally hit those same tracks going between 5 to 10 MPH OVER the posted limit, and have NEVER bottomed out, or even scrapped, for that matter.

I am an ASE Certified Master Engine Tech with over 30 years experience, and I am also a trained, qualified, and licensed high performance driver. Unless this guy was going much faster than he claims, or drives a dramatically lowered vehicle (like a Corvette) or a car with a modified suspension or hydraulic lifts which were lowered at the time, I don't see how he could have 'Drilled' his oil pan?!

And I personally feel that, in regards to his $900 repair bill, he has either, 1) Lied about how fast he was truly going when he crossed those tracks (which were, as stated above, smoothed over several months ago), or 2) He was ripped off by the shop where he had the repairs done (if he isn't driving a Corvette or some other semi-exotic car, an oil pan replacement wouldn't cost that much), or 3) his oil pan was already leaking and/or damaged, and he is using the incident, which may or may not have actually happened, to get the city to foot the bill for his vehicle repair.

If I could see the original, damaged oil pan from his vehicle, it would be a simple matter of some basic automotive forensics to make a determination of whether or not his vehicle actually did scrape bottom going over the tracks, or if the damage was caused by some other factor or incident.

Based on what I know of the specific crossing and area of Marietta Avenue, and judging from the description above, I would say that this guys is looking for a free-bee vehicle repair...sorry dude, but I'm just not buying it!
Be Careful
March 22, 2013
I have noticed that several sets of tracks have been worse after being "fixed" by CSX. I guess they don't have any engineers on staff that can figure out the approach and departure angles so that cars don't bottom out when crossing.

But I also have to say...dude...$900 for an oil pan? I'd find a different mechanic. Dude got ripped off.
March 22, 2013
Here is the big question: How drunk was he?
March 22, 2013
Leaving vehicles in the train kill zone longer. No wonder trains kill 90 people to normal drivers 1 in 100 million miles.

Where do the state and Feds we pay millions sleep?
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