Drivers crossing the tracks on the way to and from Talkeetna had a bit of a surprise Thursday and Friday. One of the mechanical arms that acts as a barrier between vehicle traffic and oncoming trains wasn’t there, and a crew from the Alaska Railroad was working on the downed signal. Since Thursday also marked the first day of snow, and the roads had become slick, many assumed that a vehicle had collided with the barrier. As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened.
Terry Dolan, Public Works Manager for the Mat-Su Borough, says that a Borough vehicle collided with the crossing signal around 5:00 pm on Thursday evening. Dolan says that the driver, a Borough employee, encountered a patch of ice and the vehicle began to slide. He says the Borough employee had nearly corrected the slide, only to have to turn sharply to avoid an oncoming vehicle that had also lost traction. The Borough truck spun, and the tailgate collided with the mechanism that lowers the crossing arm. Dolan says that the Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska Railroad were notified. The Borough vehicle sustained minor damage, and the driver is not believed to have suffered serious injury.
Tim Sullivan, spokesman for the Alaska Railroad, says that the damage can be quickly repaired, and does not expect a serious impairment to rail traffic.