GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Kings Mountain city leaders are looking into permanently closing a railroad crossing that is known for accidents between 18-wheelers and oncoming trains.
The most recent accident happened when a train smashed into a tractor-trailer carrying cotton just over a week ago. No one was injured.
Kings Mountain resident Alex Alexander was eating breakfast at a Kings Mountain diner, when he witnessed the accident.
"The truck got hung up as usual on the tracks; the lower part where the stands are, get hung up on the track and the guy couldn't get the truck off of the track in time. The train was coming down so he jumped out of the tractor,” said Alexander.
The train plowed through the trailer full of cotton and kept going. It is not the first time an incident similar to this has happened. It is already the fourth time within a year.
"It becomes frustrating, because we put out all the signs that say do not cross the Oak Street crossing. We have it in Spanish, we have it in English, we have the drawings up there. We continue to look after the safety of this crossing, and it's an ongoing process,” said Kings Mountain Mayor Rick Murphrey.
Murphrey said the Oak Street crossing is particularly steep, due to reconstruction and resurfacing that have built it up, causing the loading gear on tractor-trailers to get caught.
"These trains can derail as they hit one of these trucks, and they can slide through your town, so it's a real safety concern,” said Murphrey.
After the accident, a temporary barrier was set up at the crossing and will remain there until next month; when a public hearing will be held to discuss permanently closing the Oak Street crossing. Already, officials have been working hard to emphasize that trucks are not allowed on the crossings.
"New signs on the truck routes, maps, talking to the manufacturing facilities, talking to the railroad and DOT, we're going to make it safer at these crossings,” said Murphrey.
Murphrey said they want to make sure if they do close the Oak Street crossing, they do not simply push the problem down to the next crossing. He said they are working with the DOT and railroad company on how to prevent that from happening.