Playground's proximity to railroad tracks worries parents

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BRADENTON - The playground at Bradenton's new Riverwalk is proving to be a big hit. But some parents say one thing at the new park is concerning, and they're afraid their children's safety could be at risk.

Less than 100 feet away from the playground are train tracks, and no sort of barrier or warning if a train is coming.

Parents ABC 7 talked to Monday say a sign isn't enough of a warning, especially for young children. And they're afraid if something isn't done, a child will get hurt or even killed.

Even if they're told "no", Bradenton resident Cathy Lamb says her 3-year-old twin grandsons' curiosity may get the best of them if a train were to come through. “They'd be tickled to death to see it, but I would be concerned they would run in front of it, not realizing the repercussions.”

City officials say the tracks are primarily used by Tropicana, and trains come through there about four times a day at various times, which is a huge concern for Cathy. “It's so close to the children's playground, I can see children getting hurt. Maybe they can put something up that would close the gate when a train comes or something like that, but it is a real concern. It's just right there.”

But even without the barrier, David Gustafson with Bradenton's Downtown Development Authority says all safety requirements are met. “We meet all the requirements set by CSX and railroad companies have dictated for this crossing. And realistically, this crossing is utilized around four times a day, sometimes early, early in the morning. And the fact that sometimes residents behind us will say they're woken up early in the morning, and sometimes late at night. We do meet all the requirements currently right now. Safety is definitely a concern of ours and we're constantly monitoring the situation.”

Heather Garcia brings her daughter there to play at least a few times a week, and she says while she thinks it would be a good idea to put some sort of barrier up, it's parents responsibility to make sure their kids don't end up on the wrong side of the tracks. “I noticed that there's not a barrier, but it's not a concern for me because I stay right by my daughter. I don't let her run, or out of my sight, even for a minute. But I can see how that's a concern, because there are a lot of kids here and there is no barrier.”

Gustafson says when the trains do come through, they're not going full speed -- only about 8-10 miles per hour. And he says you can hear them coming long before they ever reach the crossing.