Tractor-trailers bottom out weekly on railroad crossing that prohibits them

Dunbar police say tractor-trailers cross the intersection, even with warning signs posted, and it could cause a serious train wreck.
Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 10:05 PM EDT
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DUNBAR, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Another tractor-trailer got hung up Sunday on the railroad crossing at 16th Street and Dunbar Avenue.

Dunbar Police Chief Brian Oxley said the incidents happen once or twice a week.

“So you have GPS leading these trucks to these areas and they are trying to cross it, and the intersection is so steep that the trucks are getting hung,” Oxley said.

Champ Kerns owns a music and video store along 16th Street, just up the road from where the railroad tracks cross an elevated three-way intersection

Tractor-trailers are not allowed, but that does not stop semi drivers.

“I see an average of two bottom out on this per week, sometimes more, sometimes one,” Kerns said.

In the last few weeks, Oxley said they have dealt with six of these incidents.

“Obviously you can tell it is a steep grade, but there is big yellow signs that say “tractor-trailers are prohibited from crossing” and it directs them to the 10th Street crossing which is flat” Oxley said.

These wrecks are not just a minor inconvenience. They tie up an officer, block the three-way intersection and halt all trains coming through for a couple of hours.

“I mean, it is kind of dangerous if the truck gets hung on the intersection and there is any damage to the rail that could potentially cause damage to a train that comes through,” Oxley said.

He also worries about a situation that could involve a truck getting stuck and a train too close for officers to notify the railroad.

“Because a train can’t stop if a train is coming through. They have to get them pretty far away to start making them stop,” Oxley said.

The situation could potentially cause a train to hit a truck sitting on the railroad. Oxley said if that truck was hauling hazardous materials or things such as batteries, it could be even worse.

Oxley said the best solution is to follow the signs that lead drivers away from the intersection. If not, they could face charges of failure to obey traffic signs. He said the greater risk for drivers is if a truck bottoms out, the driver must pay the wrecker to come pull them off and foot the cost if the railroad is damaged.

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