Mayor: Crossbars should prevent future accidents

Published 7:21 pm Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Yet another crash has occurred at a Thorsby railroad crossing, bringing to light once again the need for additional safety measures at the intersections.

A train and a flatbed truck collided Tuesday afternoon at the County Road 623 crossing near the entrance to Georgia Pacific. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the bed of the truck was damaged.

Thorsby Mayor Dearl Hilyer said the town is closer than ever to getting crossbars installed at each of the crossings — a measure he said should go a long way toward preventing future collisions.

Hilyer said he spoke last week with an Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) representative, who reportedly said the project was pending federal signatures — a process that could take two to three weeks. Once the signatures are obtained, the parts will be ordered and construction can begin.

The original plan was to close all crossings in the area except for the road that serves as an entrance to the Georgia Pacific Plant, but this plan was abandoned for several reasons. For one, it would have required the construction of a service road connecting Baggett Road and 623, and this idea was not supported by all residents in the area. Also, Hilyer said it could have created an “at-risk” situation because the state could not guarantee the installation of a traffic signal.

“If we had stayed with the original plan, every bit of traffic southwest of town would be crossing at Georgia Pacific, which would mean log trucks, school buses and daily drivers,” Hilyer said.

Once the appropriate paperwork is completed, crossbars will be installed at every crossing in Thorsby that does not already have them.

Hilyer did say one of the best tools for preventing train-related crashes is for drivers to practice safe habits. He warns all drivers to stop, look and listen when approaching any crossing.

He said crossbars at one of the crossings in town almost came down on his truck once as he was preparing to cross the tracks.

“They can sneak up on you,” he said.