Dangerous railroad crossing off Old Mike Padgett Highway could trap cars in train's path

By: Diane Cho
By: Diane Cho

A dangerous railroad crossing off Old Mike Padgett Highway has neighbors worried about what might happen.

They say drivers who are unfamiliar with the area are getting stuck on the tracks.

The warning signs have been tossed aside, and the deep divots in the road are a hazard for anyone driving, especially at night.

The tracks are located off Highway 56 just before the Burke County line.

It's a dangerous crossing with no warning signs, and neighbors say it's been that way for at least a year.

A dead-end sign almost a mile away is the only warning to drivers of what might lie ahead.

It's not until you're almost on top of the tracks that you realize there's a problem.

This is not a graded crossing. In fact, there's a big drop-off.

And the loose gravel takes the front end of your car and leaves it wedged against the track.

"You hit this loose rock right around here and sand, even driving slow 'cause you don't know where you're at, and you're not going to be able to stop in time before you hit the tracks," says John Jenkins, who lives near the tracks.

And that's exactly what happened when an out-of-town driver headed down Old Mike Padgett Highway.

The skid marks show exactly when he realized he was about to fall in.

"He see he wasn't going to stop so he hit the gas and it bounced him on over," says nearby resident Johnny Lee Bush.

And there's nothing out here to block off the road.

We did find the debris from a wooden blockade that once stood here to warn drivers.

"Children had come and threw it on the railroad tracks and had the train hit, you know, just run over it. It's splintered down all over the other side of the tracks out there," says Alesia Logan, who lives nearby.

"You can see right there where they tried to back up and it just spun the gravel out."

It's the second time in a month Logan has seen it.

"A young woman and her father come through, live near here, they came through and tried stopping and it was raining that night, and they slid on into the tracks," Logan says.

With trains rolling along these tracks four to six times a day, neighbors worry someone will get stuck...maybe even killed.

"If it hadn't been for our truck and chain, they would've been on the tracks at 9 o'clock when the train came through," says Jenkins.

Fortunately for that driver, the train was running late that night.

The crossing is obviously not safe. The locals know to avoid it, but others can't see the danger until it's too late.

News 12 will be contacting Norfolk southern and Richmond county engineers to let them know this is happening.

We'll let you know what they decide to do.

One neighbor told us they've only seen one vehicle make it across the tracks...but the car's suspension and exhaust didn't.

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