Wingate approves plan to fix railroad crossings

WINGATE, N.C. — There’s a new plan to prevent train crashes at certain railroad crossings in a Union County community.

For years, tractor-trailers have gotten stuck on the tracks at the North Main Street crossing.

“It’s been a regular occurrence here,” said resident Kevin Stewart.

Stewart sent video to Channel 9 showing a truck stuck on the North Main crossing just last week, and there were two more train collisions in January -- both happened the same week at the same crossing.

Wingate Mayor Garry Hamill said the crashes happen because the grade on the track is too high for certain trucks to come through, and it causes the trucks to get stuck.

Many in the Wingate community have become more and more concerned over the years as Channel 9 has reported on the issue, but there are new proposals on the table that aim to put a stop to this.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation proposed changes to both the North Main Street and Bivens Street crossings at a town meeting in March. NCDOT suggested lowering the grade of the of the railroad crossing and adding sidewalks.

The fix would cost $1.1 million and the town can tap into federal funds for it.

In return, NCDOT wants to shut down the North Stewart Street crossing.

Town commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday night to shut down the Stewart Street crossing so the North Main side can be fixed.

It is a 12-to-18-month project and some residents told leaders they are worried about the closure.

North Main Street will have to be raised on both sides of the tacks and new rail signal equipment will be installed.

The mayor of Wingate said the closure will take getting used to but it will be worth it.

“I think, at the end of the day, everybody will understand the decision we made,” Hammil said. “NCDOT says there will be a 3-mile detour for trucks but the mayor tells me word has already spread to truck drivers about this issue and less are choosing this route as a result.

(WATCH BELOW: VIDEO: Train slams into tractor-trailer at railroad crossing in Wingate)

Almiya White

Almiya White, wsoctv.com

Almiya White is a reporter for WSOC-TV