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Train, truck collision leads to traffic snarl

A collision between a train and a dump truck had traffic snarled for nearly three hours in downtown Thomson Tuesday afternoon. All railroad crossings in downtown were blocked. Traffic was re-routed to the only open railroad crossing at the Temple-Inland plant on Harrison Road.

No one was injured in the accident, which took place at the railroad crossing at the intersection of Hendricks and Greenway streets at about 11:45 a.m.

Florence Ann Story said she was sitting in the parking lot behind the Thomson Depot eating lunch in her car and watching the clearing and grading for construction going on at the new city-county government center site. Ms. Story said she watched in horror as several dump trucks drove on Hendricks Street alongside a train on the railroad tracks parallel to Hendricks Street and turned to cross the tracks.

"They didn't stop at all. Four of them made it across, but the last one didn't," she said. "They were riding alongside the train, but not one of them stopped to see where the train was. ... I was sitting right there watching it all unfold before me."

The Barnett Southern Corporation dump truck, driven by Grady Jerome Wilson, 56, of Tignall, Ga., was traveling east on Hendricks Street when it turned left to cross the railroad tracks, authorities said.

A city worker said the trucks were hauling dirt out of the property being cleared, and then returning with a load of new dirt or gravel.

The dump truck was hit in the front with diesel fuel spilling onto the roadway at the intersection. After inspection and investigation by CSX Transportation, Inc. officials, city police and firefighters with the Thomson Fire Department, the train was cleared for continuing its journey at 2:30 p.m. Subsequently, motorists, who had been tied up in bumper to bumper traffic at various railroad crossings were able to pass along city streets normally, again.

Thomson Police Sgt. Jammie Smith said Mr. Wilson was charged with failure to stop at a railroad crossing with flashing lights.

CSX media spokesman Gary Sease said the eastbound train, which was carrying coal at the time of the mishap, was a local train that runs out of Camak, Ga. and visits various industries in the Augusta area.

Staff Writer Billy W. Hobbs and WTHO News Director Donna Branch contributed to this article.

Web posted on Thursday, January 21, 2010

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