WINGATE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Wingate is known for Wingate University, for being a place of easy living, and, unfortunately, for a recent increase in train collisions involving large trucks.

Queen City News first reported two truck vs. train accidents that happened within the same week in January.

Large trucks have “bottomed out,” going over large railroad crossing humps at three central locations in the town: Bivens Street, Main Street, and Stewart Road.

Wingate town leaders said another accident happened a few days before Wednesday’s NCDOT presentation on how the problem could be solved.

“We need to do something much more significant,” NCDOT representative Brett Canipe explained.

The problem has existed since 2018 but has become much more common recently. NCDOT believes it has to do with an elevation change of the tracks during maintenance work and an increase in the number of trucks that pass over these railroad crossings.

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The plan (in its current form) would include repaving and widening the crossing on Main and Bivens Street and closing the Stewart Road crossing for thru traffic.

Fewer drivers use the Stewart Road crossing when compared with Main and Divens.

Jahmal Pullen, with NCDOT, explained that federal funds would cover this for Hazard Elimination projects like this.

“We remove a crossing like this; it eliminates there ever being an accident there ever again,” Pullen explained. “But it allows us to do work on the sites where we’re pushing that traffic too.”

Large trucks would also be re-routed, avoiding the construction at those railroad crossing sites.

Town manager Brad Sellers said that while plans have been discussed since 2019, the recent railroad derailments in Ohio have put the need into perspective.

“I’ve been watching that East Palestine over and over, and I can just envision that happening in Wingate,” Sellers said. “This is my home. This is where we work and play. We can’t take that risk; we won’t take that risk.”

The discussion will continue at a meeting on March 21, followed by a public hearing.

If approved, the project could take 12 to 18 months to complete.