On Jan. 3, yet another semi truck became stuck on the tracks at the troubled railroad crossing in Crestwood, this time resulting in a collision that caused no injuries, but left the intersection closed around eight hours for clean-up.
Oldham County residents have grown accustomed to such scenarios, but city officials like Mayor Jim Kramer still emphasize that the potential hazards of the collisions, from a public safety perspective, should not be downplayed.
Working with CSX and the state to change the grade of the crossing, if feasible, will be a long-term and expensive solution.
In the meantime, Kramer continues to work with county officials for temporary measures to alert truckers of the crossing.
Nineteen signs already exist by Railroad Ave., attempting to warn semi drivers of the near-certainty their trucks will not clear the grade, but last year alone, in excess of 70 tractor-trailers became ensnared on the track.
On Monday morning, Kramer met with County Engineer Jim Silliman to scope out locations for a “mast pole” at the now defunct Sunoco gas station property owned by the city.
The mast pole, according to Silliman, features a mast arm affixed with dangling, reflective tubes.
“[The mast pole], instead of having traffic signals, would have reflective yellow tubes dangling [from the arm],” he said in a previous interview. “If a truck missed that and went under it, they would brush on top of the tractor trailer giving them more time to notice it.”
In a phone interview last week, Silliman said, depending on the availability of materials, the mast apparatus should be installed within a few months.
“If the contractors who conduct that work have the materials, it could be quick,” he said.
Silliman expressed some optimism that the mast apparatus will be effective.
“We’re going to have to see if it becomes a useful deterrent,” he said. “It’s been used in other locations for other functions. It’s not the first of its kind.”
Beyond the mast pole, Kramer expressed during the January Crestwood City Council meeting his hope to also install a large digital sign near the Sunoco property.
The city, he said, purchased two such signs several years ago with CARES Act funding. One of them is currently positioned on the Deibel Barn at the Maples Park where the city council meets.
The other currently sits in a warehouse, but not for lack of effort, Kramer said after the meeting.
Kramer confirmed that the city initially sought ways to install the other sign in several locations near the McDonald’s, but property ownership obstacles, state regulations and other utility deficiencies prevented them from doing so.
Whether the former Sunoco plot, where Kramer now hopes to install the second sign, is conducive for installation remains to be seen.
Further consultation with Silliman, he said, will determine the presence of gas lines or suitable electricity to power the sign at the location.
If conducive, Kramer said the sign features 4G capability, which would allow him to pair it with his laptop for all manner of custom updates and visual warnings.
One option would be linking the sign to Oldham County Smart 911 updates to better alert motorists in the area of any possible problems.
4G capabilities would also allow the city to create its own custom messages or warnings on the sign.
“We could actually share large images of a truck being stuck on the track [to hopefully deter them],” Kramer said.