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Another hurdle cleared for Thorsby RR crossings

By Scott Mims

The town of Thorsby’s quest to obtain lights and crossbars at its railroad crossings is hopefully coming to an end.
Mayor Dearl Hilyer reported to the Town Council Monday night that the federal government has completed all necessary paperwork for the equipment to be installed.
“Everything is signed, official, money’s there,” Hilyer said. “The parts have been ordered.”
Since the most recent train-related crash at the intersection of U.S. Highway 31 and Chilton County Road 623, which involved a log truck the morning of Aug. 5, the town’s police department has been patrolling the crossings and issuing tickets to motorists caught running stop signs at railroad crossings. Those who receive the tickets, Hilyer said, have the option of attending an hour-long safety program presented at the Thorsby Annex. The next safety program is scheduled for today (Tuesday) at 5 p.m.
At a recent meeting between CSX and the Alabama Department of Transportation, Hilyer said, Thorsby’s efforts to spread railroad safety awareness through programs like Operation Lifesaver were mentioned.
“They were using us as an example of what some of the towns and cities should use in helping raise awareness about the danger of railroad crossings,” he said.
But the town’s recent history of crashes is difficult to ignore. Three log truck versus train crashes have occurred at the aforementioned crossing, the other two occurring on Oct. 9, 2006, and June 14, 2007.
Hilyer said he recently learned that 70 percent of all crashes at railroad crossings occurred at crossings equipped with crossbars.
“There’s no way to make them accident proof,” he said, “but maybe we will increase the chances of visibility that a train is coming.”
Hilyer said he would report to the council as soon as he knows a date for installation of the crossbars.
In other business, the council:
•Scheduled public hearings regarding an alcohol license for Mizzell’s and Main Street Market for Thursday, Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. and Friday, Sept. 3 at 11 a.m. at the Town Annex.
•Announced the next council meeting will be held Friday, Sept. 3 at 11 a.m. due to the Labor Day holiday.
•Accepted the resignation of Shonda Copen from the Park and Recreation Board.