ASHLAND, Va. (WRIC) — In Ashland, the train tracks are a big part of the community.
Shocking footage captured by the Virtual Railcam, a webcam for train-enthusiasts, showed a tractor-trailer and an Amtrak train nearly colliding in the middle of Ashland.
The driver of the truck drove on as if nothing happened.
The video is hard to watch, especially knowing the outcome could have ended much differently. With tourists coming to the area, town leaders are looking for ways to improve safety.
“Its probably always been happening but we’re seeing it a lot more now that we have the virtual railfan camera and that’s not a bad thing,” said Ashland Town Manager Joshua Farrar. “If there’s issues going on we certainly want to address them.”
Farrar told 8News the tracks in the middle of town, which traffic has to go through, is a “unique intersection.”
Ashland Police says there have been 21 railroad incidents, 17 of them occurring at night and 14 involving alcohol, since 2007.
In the latest encounter between the train and a truck, everyone walked away unharmed.
“That wasn’t necessarily because of our situation,” Farrar said. “I think and the rail and the way its laid out that was someone overestimated their ability to make a turn.”
Farrar told 8News there are three ways to improve safety around the tracks: more lighting, crossing improvements and a passenger information display.
The next step for Ashland and Farrar is getting funding for the safety improvements.
“We obviously want to educate the public but then advocate to CSX to help us with the lighting, to the state to help us with the gates, and then the passenger information display,” Farrar told 8News. “We’re willing to partner, we just need a little bit of help.”
The Town of Ashland has applied for grant money through the state to improve safety. Farrar tells 8News they’ve been denied the funding, but do plan to re-apply.
Performance Food Group, whose driver was behind the wheel of the tractor-trailer, says it is cooperating with authorities.
Stay with 8News for updates.