Accident Once Again Highlights Danger At Railroad Crossing

Another school bus accident Monday in the same place where a Marine was killed when his car rear-ended a school bus last year is once again raising safety concerns.

Monday's accident, like that fatal one last year, happened while the school bus was stopped on railroad tracks.

There were no injuries Monday when a school bus from H.J. MacDonald Middle School was rear-ended at the James City railroad crossing along Highway 70, but it's renewing calls to stop school and activity buses from stopping on those tracks.

Highway Patrol Supervisor Kevin Rock says, "It's kind of a choke point right there in James City for traffic coming from New Bern."

County leaders and the school board want school and activity buses exempt from stopping -- both have adopted resolutions and have the support of all three state delegates.

County Commissioner Steve Tyson says, " It has to be a bill introduced in the General Assembly and passed, and it's my understanding that it will be done in this upcoming short session

Commercial vehicles and motor carriers are already exempt from stopping after fighting a similar battle.

Not only does the county have the support from delegates and the school board, but also from the Highway 70 commission and the Highway Patrol.

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  • by George Location: Stokes on Apr 28, 2010 at 03:40 AM
    This is a joke...I rode up on the accident last year when the marine was killed. Rick, it is not motorist convenience. It is a bus stopped dead on a freaking US highway on the backside of a curve. In a perfect world everyone would get enough sleep every night, be attentive every hour of the day and aware of every hazard around them. And you mention another cup of coffee?? Common sense will tell you that this is no place for a bus to stop. Unfortunately a life had to be taken to prove it. Rick your post was at 12:21 am, who needs the sleep??? LOL
  • by Rick Location: Washington on Apr 27, 2010 at 09:21 PM
    I worry that for "motorist convenience" we put children's lives at increased risk, especially at crossings that do not have gates. Do we really have to be in that big a hurry? If there is a horrible accident, do you really want that blood on your hands for a few minutes extra sleep or another cup of coffee?
  • by James Location: New Bern on Apr 27, 2010 at 09:03 PM
    These tracks are for the most part unused. There is no need to have school buses stopping rush hour traffic on hwy 70 in the mornings or evenings. I have lived here for 6 years and can't remember ever seeing a train on these tracks. On back roads or crossings without lights/gates or with blind intersections sure, but here it's more dangerous for the bus to stop. Another need is for LEO's to start writing more tickets for speeding in this area. My children are on this road each morning and people drive like they are going around Talladega super speedway. Seems half the people I see are on their cell phones, primpin in the mirror, eating breakfast... all while speeding. I think if enough tickets are handed out, the traffic would slow down considerably.
  • by tug Location: New Bern on Apr 27, 2010 at 08:33 PM
    I drove through there yesterday when 2 buses where in the area. I realized how easy this could happen with all the merging that happens right there in several curves . Come around one at 60 and see a bus stopped and nowhere to go. This particular crossing is very rarely used. It has a very good signal system and is gated at both ends. The one time I saw an engine go thru there the train went across the highway while the worker walked alongside to open and close the fences. This is not a high speed train area. This particular crossing should be exempt as this will keep happening.
  • by Dennis Sibole Location: New Bern on Apr 27, 2010 at 08:32 PM
    A couple of years ago (2006) I was the Supervisor of a Group Home that had residents on a bus that was rear-ended by a truck at this railroad crossing. I did my best to contact the School Officials, the Bus Supervisor and the State DOT and got no where. Luckily no one was seriously hurt but the is something wrong when the the local and state systems turns their backs on the safety of our citizens. To add insult to injury, I don't believe those tracks are even used anymore. There are gates to block trains from crossing and they should be closed and locked. Then if it is ever necessary for a train to cross the highway, appropriate traffic police could be put in place to alert traffic and avert disaster.
  • by Gail Location: greenville on Apr 27, 2010 at 06:20 PM
    What's it going to take????
  • by Greg Location: Craven on Apr 27, 2010 at 06:16 PM
    Most crossings today have lights and barrier gates. There is no reason to have buses stop at these crossings. The DOT does all these studies and improves to help the flow of traffic and you have school buses stopping at every railroad crossing. Makes no sense in this day and time. With the technology we have now there could be better warning systems that could be installed in buses that would trigger when the train got a certain distance from a crossing and the bus was in range. It wouldn't be hard to do now. GPS could even be a means of doing it.

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