Green monster: UVA's ped-stopping fence claims a victim

It took 12 years, but an overnight impalement indicates that the so-called "Green Monster" has claimed its first injury victim. Fire Chief Charles Werner reports that rescue workers arrived at 258 Crispell Drive at 2:58am Saturday, January 28 to rescue an individual dangling upside-down on the fence erected by UVA to keep pedestrians away from train tracks.

The patient was transported to the UVA Medical Center Emergency Room, Werner said.

In the year 2000, under an agreement with Norfolk Southern Corporation, the University of Virginia erected the $125,000, 1,200-foot long metal fence between the train tracks and the back side of the Medical Center.

With few officially-permitted pedestrian crossings in that area and with train speeds typically much slower than in rural areas, the nearly quarter-mile-long in-town structure has long provoked concern that UVA was overzealously elevating insurance concerns– in the name of safety– over connectivity.

UVA Police spokesperson Melissa Fielding tells a reporter that she can recall no prior injuries on the fence.

Charlottesville Police occasionally embark on stings to ticket people who cross train tracks, with one such sting and its $106 tickets provoking ire in 2008. One of the ironies inherent in any discussion of shortcutting or trespassing over railroad tracks is that pedestrians have the right to legally walk over such tracks at automobile  crossings.

At the time of the fence's erection, there was talk of creating bridges over the tracks, but that never happened.


Seems like money spent erecting pedestrian bridges would be better spent. I'd bet the RR would be up for granting an easement or whatever for that kind of structure.

Seems like money spent saying "what the heck were you doing jumping fences in the middle of the night to get to the back side of the research block of the hospital," would be better spent.

The only things between the Shamrock road crossing and the 10th st underpass is a few sprawled buildings from UVA and the hospitals research buildings. Lets build the pedestrian bridge to nowhere.

one non-fatal injury in 12 years? wow. wish the auto (or airline, or medical, or pharmaceutical, or railroad, or military, or agricultural) industry had that kind of record.

So making a fool of yourself singing karaoke isn't the only dumb thing drunks do.

I don't understand how this person impaled himself. Were there sharpened spikes atop the fence? Because if the tops of the fence bars are merely 3/4 inch squares it's hard to see how they penetrate flesh - even if it was a great, big fat person awkwardly rolling himself over the fence.

Boo, The spikes are sharpened, but they are pointy,

I bet they won't try to climb the fence again. I knew when the put that fence up that one day a drunk would attempt to climb it and kebab themselves. Do I think that the fence needs to come down? Nope! Better this than someone get creamed by a train.

Meant to say AREN'T sharpened.

Pointy spikes atop the fence? Are you kidding me? Why stop there? Why not German shephards and Prussian sentries patrolling the area? And what of land mines and razor wire? Clearly, they have more work to do.

Thousands of people work at the hospital and thousands of people live across the tracks. It's a long walk, but it's a lot longer if you have to go around. Some people do travel by foot still.

look at a map. the only property along grove street owned by UVA where they could build a pedestrian bridge is a block from roosevelt brown blvd. if you google map it, it says it would save pedestrians a whopping 5 minutes not having to go under the tracks. all of the other properties along grove st. are privately owned, and i seriously doubt anyone's going to allow an easement for thousands of people to tromp through their yard.

There is already a tunnel, but it is currently a drainage pipe. The fence extends all the way to Shamrock, or close it, if memory serves. The paths from Cherry Avenue and JPA student neighborhoods over the tracks were well-tracked once, and maybe now, I do not know.

Wrong again. Typical Hook. There was another impailment back in 2007 or 2008. Employees got the subject off and in to the ER

Still Living- Do you mean the "few sprawled buildings from UVA and the hospitals research buildings" that employ and teach several thousand C-Ville residents who live directly on the other side of the tracks? For those of us who live on Cherry Ave, adding an extra mile of sidewalk via Shamrock Rd (which is currently handling an overload of car traffic from the JPA bridge shutdown) seems very silly when we can see the Emergency Ward from our back yards.

Although UVa would have been forced to purchase a couple of those residential lots for pedestrian crossings over the tracks (between the public street and the RR tracks), I'm sure the cost would be a fraction of the budget for either that fence or pedestrian bridges. This would have been even more the case before the real-estate bubble. In all likelihood, UVa would pay for the city to condemn and purchase these as a public right of way and for the city to construct the bridges (and assume maintenance).

Of course you would space these evenly: Spring St. -> Crispell and Valley Road Extension to Valley Rd seem the best candidates.

First of all, hats off to Hawes for getting "back side" and "erection" into the same article!
Now, only in a bedwetting town like Chville could people try to rationalize someone climbing over a pointy fence at 3 a.m. by comparing to Iron Curtain checkpoints and blaming "the man." I must go to that fence at shift change time at UVa and see all the employees climbing the fence en masse to get home after a hard day's work.
There has to be a solution to the problem, but trying to be sympathetic to some ninny in this case is ridiculous.
Imagine, gang, that I worked near JPA, and the bridge construction was delaying my drive by 15 minutes, so I drove to work at breakneck speeds and crashed into a pole, injuring myself. Would you whine about the bridge construction and imply that someone else besides me was at fault?
Stay off the fence, Darwin, and the situation is solved!
R.I.P.: Junior Samples

Law suit....let's see which lawyer steps up first.............

With regards to Green Monster impalement, I personally know of other people who have suffered gashing when landing on this fence, the 3/4 spikes are angled to a bevel point and the fence is not safe to climb. The number of people crossing the tracks has diminished markedly since construction. Previously, I witnessed a steady stream of people crossing the tracks to Grove and King St. accessing their parked cars. Eventually, permit parking zones were implemented solving the serious street parking problem in the early 90's. There's some need for constraints because of density scale differences between UVA and residential Fifeville. I have verbally petitioned both city officials and UVA representatives about expanding the pedestrian economy from downtown into Fifeville. Pedestrian easements along the railroad tracks added slowly might foster higher density urban renewal. Pedestrian economies are functioning well at both, UVA and Downtown Charlottesville, why not spread the pedestrian environment by mitigating the railroad divide, trespass, with crossings? I often make the joke, "it's because there is no property tax on shoes" for the funding. There is an old pedestrian bridge in Ivy, behind the store, follow the tracks for some inspiration.