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Train and Tanker Truck Collide on NC Highway 49 in Charlotte

Posted on Aug 21, 2008
WYFF Channel Four out of Greenville reported a train and tanker truck crash on NC Highway 49 near Charlotte. The accident, which occurred early on the morning of Friday, July 11, forced the closing of the road north of Interstate 485 for several hours.

The Charlotte Police Department stated that the truck was struck by the train as it was crossing the tracks on Cabarrus Farm Road near University City Boulevard. As a result of the accident, the truck was pushed down the tracks for a quarter mile and sparked a fire in the truck, which was split in half. The fire spread to one of the train's freight cars.

The truck was delivering between 5,000 and 6,100 gallons of mineral oil to a Duke Power substation, which uses the oil to maintain electrical equipment. The truck driver suffered minor injuries, and both the truck driver and a train worker were transported to Carolinas Medical Center - University for treatment.

According to WCNC, hazmat crews worked to clean up the mineral oil spill throughout Friday and into Saturday afternoon. On Saturday morning, the hazmat workers began to flood the contaminated area with water to finish their cleanup process.

WCNC also reported, in a separate article, that the accident report stated that the tanker truck could not be dislodged from the tracks before it was struck by the oncoming train. According to the accident report compiled by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police stated that the train's engineer honked the train's horn and applied the train's emergency breaks. However, the 70-car train was unable to stop before striking the train.

The Federal Railroad Administration's records show that this was not the first train and track accident at this specific crossing. Three years ago, a pickup truck was struck by a train at the same location. Although the crossing is marked by several signs, there are no automated crossing arms, lights, or bells to warn of a train's approach. The crossing is on private property, meaning that the landowner is responsible for any improvements or safety measures.

Andy Thompson, spokesman for Duke Energy, said that the company would meet with Norfolk Southern railroad operator in order to discuss options concerning adding lights and automated arms to the one-lane dead end road crossing. Such additions could cost between $180,000 and $350,000 but would also prevent truck and train accidents in the future.

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