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Wait, I don't think this is the right bridge.
January 24, 2012 7:23 PM   Subscribe

Last Friday morning, two men managed to crash their pickup truck by attempting to drive 60 mph down the Sixth Street Railroad Bridge in Augusta, Georgia. Police believe alcohol was a contributing factor to the accident, but the fact that the railroad track in question is an active street-running line may have also played a part.

While the next scheduled train was able to see the crashed truck and stop in time, previous trains on this line have not been so fortunate. Just 12 miles down that exact same track is Graniteville, South Carolina, where in November of 2004, a train-auto collision at a gate-less crossing caused five fatalities, followed three months later by the worst derailment in South Carolina history, resulting in a chlorine gas spill that killed nine and almost bankrupted the town. This time around, the collateral damage was much less severe: in addition to the damage to the bridge itself, the truck managed to land on the Augusta Riverwalk Perennial Garden once the crew from Norfolk Southern had dislodged it.
posted by radwolf76 (44 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
... and scant yards away, on Broad Street, is the Discotheque Lounge, where for years the Snake Woman stripped for our lads from Fort Gordon.
posted by Ardiril at 7:32 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why risk your life on bridge when you can drive through a tunnel?
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:32 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Watch that running link to see one of the reasons why I no longer drive a train. It only takes one idiot to give you a bad day (or twenty years), and I counted about 25 in that segment.

Ardiril, were you at Gordon? (I was, in 1973!)
posted by pjern at 7:36 PM on January 24, 2012


Wow, it's like watching a skyscraper fall toward you in slow motion.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:38 PM on January 24, 2012


pjern, I lived in the area off and on for many years. Back when I could still pull off wearing a black cocktail mini-dress.
posted by Ardiril at 7:42 PM on January 24, 2012


(Tries to remember if he ever saw Ardiril in a black cocktail mini-dress.)
posted by pjern at 7:47 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Augusta Gee Ay! Home of Jaaaaaames Brown! And just acros the state line, in North Augusta, South Carolina, home of my aunt Luciiiiile!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:49 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


So nobody's got any anecdotes about being menaced by scofflaw drivers, or is concerned if the drivers were wearing their seatbelts?

This is way less fun than a bicycle thread.
posted by anthill at 7:50 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


You were 10 years too early. But Broad Street was the right area.

(BTW, if you think this is unrelated to the 6th Street railroad bridge, you don't know Augusta.)
posted by Ardiril at 7:50 PM on January 24, 2012


Wow, that looks just like another railroad bridge on which I have carefully walked home carrying a full growler.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:50 PM on January 24, 2012


"This is way less fun than a bicycle thread."

Between the frequency with which drivers around bar closing time threaten my life, and the amount of money and time I lose to beer and liquor bottles smashed on the side of the road, I would like to see a multiplicative alcohol + gasoline tax. The money you spend in a year on alcohol would be multiplied by the amount you spend on gasoline, and a fixed percentage of that would be your tax. If you booze it up but rarely drive, you are fine. Drive all the time but never drink, great. The people who do both would pay for driver education and bike lanes.
posted by idiopath at 7:59 PM on January 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


The officer interviewed in the first link has an accent that sure brings back memories. I like the way people talk down south.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:00 PM on January 24, 2012


... and scant yards away, on Broad Street, is the Discotheque Lounge, where for years the Snake Woman stripped for our lads from Fort Gordon.
Hah! Oh my god. I went through AIT at Gordon in 2005. I got dragged to a couple strip clubs one night. Even if I were straight, I really don't think I would understand those places or why anyone goes to them. Like I get that y'all are into breasts and vaginas, but aren't you freaked out by the atmosphere? The weird, sterilized and denuded look of said vaginas? The unsmiling eyes of the strippers? What's the draw?

Er, sorry OP, do not have any comments to make about RR related things.
posted by kavasa at 8:01 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll see your pickup on a railroad bridge & raise you one SUV driving 4 blocks inside a Philadelphia trolley tunnel.
posted by scalefree at 8:16 PM on January 24, 2012


A cat (or some other small mammal) runs across the street at about 1:30! Even the animals are getting into the act of running in front of the train.
posted by Mid at 8:23 PM on January 24, 2012


I noticed that too, Mid. I was much more concerned for that animal than most of the drivers.
posted by maryr at 8:27 PM on January 24, 2012


augusta also had this guy take a late night drive through the mall. a lot of creative routes home in that town.
posted by camdan at 8:28 PM on January 24, 2012


Huh. Is that what ridin' dirty means? Drunk?
posted by maryr at 8:30 PM on January 24, 2012


augusta also had this guy take a late night drive through the mall.

Life imitates art!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:33 PM on January 24, 2012


idiopath, that is an EXCELLENT idea.
posted by twjordan at 8:50 PM on January 24, 2012


Huh. Is that what ridin' dirty means? Drunk?
That would be a subset of ridin' dirty. To ride dirty is to ride in a state in which the police, were they to pull you over, would have some valid offense with which to charge you.
posted by kavasa at 8:59 PM on January 24, 2012


So nobody's got any anecdotes about being menaced by scofflaw drivers, or is concerned if the drivers were wearing their seatbelts?
As a pedestrian, I have in fact been bumped by cars a couple times when they rolled through a light or turned at a stop sign without seeing me. The drivers always looked horrified at what they had done and didn't swear at me at all. So basically, they acted exactly unlike bicyclists.

Maybe the bottom line is that I'm more or less OK with being hit by vehicles as long as the operator is nice to me afterward.
posted by planet at 8:59 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regarding bicycles, for a while, when I lived in California and used a bike to get around, I had to cross a set of freight tracks to get home.

Sitting on a tiny mountain bike, next to tons upon tons of rolling steel, has a way of making one feel particularly small and insignificant. Keeps ya modest.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:01 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


So nobody's got any anecdotes about being menaced by scofflaw drivers, or is concerned if the drivers were wearing their seatbelts?

As a pedestrian, it's cyclists who run into me and abuse me for not getting out of their way when they're riding on the footpath. Cars drivers aren't such a pack of fuckwits. Sorry to puncture your sphere of self-satisfaction.
posted by rodgerd at 9:34 PM on January 24, 2012


not to further the derail (yuck yuck), but I think we can all agree that among all the ways of getting around, the biggest jerks use either roller blades or a rascal® brand scooter
posted by idiopath at 11:05 PM on January 24, 2012


pjern: Watch that running link to see one of the reasons why I no longer drive a train.

Man, I sure wish you did, though. Your "How to boot a steam locomotive" article was just about the most fun I've ever had reading something on the internet.

Trains are so cool.

(Just gonna, um, leave this here)
posted by jake at 11:38 PM on January 24, 2012


Wow, that looks just like another railroad bridge on which I have carefully walked home carrying a full growler. posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:50 on 1/25

Thank god for google - that's really not what "growler" means in the UK...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 12:13 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The video of a train crossing town reminds me of this. The only difference is scale of this madness.
posted by hat_eater at 2:31 AM on January 25, 2012


Seems odd that the traffic lights for crossing traffic don't go red while the train passes.
posted by evilelf at 2:59 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


They definitely do around here, which is a really good thing. People are dumb around trains. I live and work near one of the busiest ports in the US, so there are SO MANY trains around ALL THE TIME. This means they become more of an every-day nuisance than a thing to respect. And it is definitely annoying to get stopped for 5-20 minutes (TBD at the time the train starts crossing) for the train to get past, so I can understand the impulse, but COME ON! It's a huge train! It's going to hurt you if you make one tiny mistake, and cause a huge problem for everybody else. Just wait it out, or find another route around. Seriously.

except that one train that offloads cars for 45 minutes and goes back...and forth...and back...and forth. that train can go fuck itself, really
posted by This Guy at 4:45 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the few charms of my decaying cabin in West Virginia, which more than compensates for the leaking roof, the collapsing non-foundation, and the fact that it's overrun with wasps and vermin and is as moldy as a bottle of penicillin, is the fact that a major rail line runs just below the property, heading into (or emerging from) a bend, so the trains aren't booking as they go by, and far enough from all the crossings that they only blow their horns from a mile away, in that wonderful distant cry that's as good as the sound of bagpipes drifting over a foggy loch to me.

The small knot of houses that define Orleans Crossroads, the nearest thing to a town there, are populated largely by folks who work for CSX, commuting to work by ATV along the gravel service road that follows the Potomac into the small railyard just south of Hancock, and I can say without question that they are the drinkinest guys I know, half-lit half the time, but you just don't see a lot of crashes at any of the dozens of unguarded grade crossings where the old Ford farm tractors and windshieldless International Harvester Scouts traverse the tracks. Even drunk, they know that a train isn't something to fool with.

Out there, the brash brinksmanship of idiot boys used to manifest in the curious practice of lying flat in the trackbed as a train passed overhead for the inexplicable trophy of not being brained by a dangling bit of hardware or being cut to pieces as a punishment for sitting up in a panic, but when the dank regional economy picked up in the nineties, all the kids got ATVs for Christmas, and then the shenanigans largely went quiet. You'd see herds of them migrating into Hancock for pussy and cases of Beast on Friday nights, leaving a blue trail of two stroke smoke to mark their way, but aside from the occasional experimental attempts to launch metal trash cans over the river with quarter-sticks, things went quiet.

In Augusta, I would imagine there's not much better to do. It's one of my family places, where cousins live and work, but the level of frat boy drunken idiocy there is pretty extreme. There are actually all sorts of neat things in the city, but you generally have the pleasure of solitary urban spelunking when you decide to roam, as everyone else running on lousy two buck beer is more concerned with the vices peculiar to fifteen year-old boys.

"Hey Joe," my cousin said, with that sort of convincing gleam that allowed him to leave a trail of bastard children from Georgia to North Carolina, "You wanna shoot a body?"

"What?"

He was working, at that time, as a security guard for a college, and delighted in macbre spectacles, walking anyone with the nerve through the medical labs where cadaver training was underway, and, having seen a penis laid splayed open in mid-dissection in a darkened room when one is afraid to breathe through one's nose, it becomes easy to avoid the temptation for masturbation for quite a while.

"Yeah, there's a bunch of donors stacked up back there. Let's drag one out and hit it with the 9M!"

"What?" I say, through the squintiest of squinty eyes. I want to add "how the hell can I possibly be related to you?" but later, when he becomes a state trooper and starts sentences with propositions like "Hey Joe, you wanna turn the lights on and see how fast the cruiser will go?" I can see a bit of what's fun about being a douchebag, though, when the souped-up Mustang in Third Reich police drag passes the ton, I start looking a bit like Spock riding a Tilt-A-Whirl with little girls drunk on pink sugar cotton candy giggling around me. I am not like you people.

A train is the easiest thing in the world not to be killed by. It's right up there with gigantic rock formations as something that's obvious, clearly avoidable, and as dangerous as a dumpster full of riled-up wolverines, but people get killed by gigantic rock formations all the time, and they slam into the sides of trains, too, gurgling out as their last words, "I...I didn't see it," despite the fact that a train is pretty much the least invisible mode of transportation this side of the S.S. United States or a resurgent dirigible.

It's a little sad that these articles always seem to include someone complaining that there's still no automated guardrail at this or that intersection, particularly in states where every single tax levied for the purpose of building such infrastructure gets voted down by braying tea baggers complaining about "big gov'rmint" and the idea of actually educating drivers in something other than parallel parking is just a shocking perversion imposed by secretive Jewish French people working to take away our guns and rights. I live in the Maryland town with the greatest representation of pedestrian train strikes (as well as the most Christmas tree fires and public PCP flip-outs—Laurel rules, FTW, WOOOO!) in the state, and when I was in elementary school, they went to extraordinary extremes to educate us about the inherent danger of trains, with endless horror stories about kids who played on the tracks, got their feet stuck, and then—AAAAUUGH!

Never mind that the train ran in Laurel proper and not sleepy Scaggsville, where the real danger was that Scott C------ would stop you and waggle his oddly wine-stained uncircumcised penis at you as you were sneaking through the scruffy environs of High Ridge to visit the Candy Lady. It took years for me to overcome that training and become more relaxed around the tracks.

In the dark of one almost moonless night in West Virginia, though, I raced down the hill to catch a coal train as it rumbled through. There's something about that proximity, something alluring and glorious, and I stood on the opposing tracks as the dark shapes of coal cars thundered by in a whirl of wind and the sandy touch of grit. My friend stood off to the side, and was yelling, which just irritated me until I turned and realized that there was a train coming on the tracks where I was standing. I made a leap in the most convenient direction, which deposited me neatly into the gravel swale between the two lines, and had a good long moment to think about my lack of attention as the great steel conveyor belts ran in a cacophonous chorus of mass.

And then, with almost no further ado, they both slowed to a crawl, then stopped, leaving me at the exact middle of two mile-long chains of rail stock in nearly pitch darkness. I waited, waited some more, and then started walking.

"Are you okay there, Joe?" my friend asked as he heard me clattering over the rocks.

"Yeah, I'm just stupid is all."

"Yes, you are."

"Shut up."

Plod, plod, plod.
posted by sonascope at 5:28 AM on January 25, 2012 [20 favorites]


A train is the easiest thing in the world not to be killed by.

Unless you just get used to it and stop paying attention.

I waited, waited some more, and then started walking.

Were you afraid to climb them in the dark?
posted by hat_eater at 6:35 AM on January 25, 2012


Street-running lines used to be a fairly common thing in the US. Today, there are only a few of them left, and they look like that scene from Inception.
posted by schmod at 6:53 AM on January 25, 2012


I grew up in Augusta, and still have most of my immediate and extended family living there. My Dad sent me the link for the Augusta Chronicle when this happened, and we were both kind of surprised to find out that we weren't related to those idiots.

You do occasionally see pickup trucks on the rail lines, which makes me wonder if the guys thought they could somehow do the same thing. But with drunks, you can never tell. For all I know, it was just a "hey y'all, watch this.." kind of thing that went off the rails, so to speak.
posted by ralan at 6:58 AM on January 25, 2012


I live in Savannah, not far from downtown, and there's a train that crosses streets in my neighborhood, no gates. They just sound their horns loudly.
posted by mareli at 7:04 AM on January 25, 2012


A train is the easiest thing in the world not to be killed by.

Easier than a sponge? I DON'T THINK SO!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:14 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hardly anyone cycles to work in Augusta. No one is likely to be mowed down by West Coast cyclng rights nazis there. You could well get hit by a car on Broad, though. This Bad Cyclists thing is decidedly irrelevant to Augusta. Once you get across the Savannah or head out of downtown to a supermarket, it's all uphill or an Interstate type expressway anyway.

On the upside, you can go to strip clubs that sit right up next to the area Chamber of Commere.
posted by raysmj at 7:28 AM on January 25, 2012


...the Snake Woman...

excuse me, but in the south she is called the snake lady
posted by fallacy of the beard at 7:40 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Easier than a sponge? I DON'T THINK SO!

I would venture a guess that sponge divers, forestry workers, and people assassinated by diseases incubated in the filthy soppy wet and slimy things found on every other kitchen counter in the world would disagree. Sponges are wicked, evil things best suited to doing embarrassing faux finishes in houses beset by excessive DIY impulses.
posted by sonascope at 9:14 AM on January 25, 2012


Don't miss the "Man Plows SUV Through Augusta Mall" (video), either. Found it in the comments. That guy actually made it all the way through.
posted by nTeleKy at 9:18 AM on January 25, 2012


Why don't they look...
posted by evilelf at 10:21 AM on January 25, 2012


One of our railroad bridges in northern Quebec heads right into a native american village and for years it was the only way to cross the river without making a huge detour. There were many near-misses, accidents, and a few fatalities; but then one day we hit a pickup truck that had run out of gas on the bridge. The year after the province finally built a new bridge for the community so that they could leave the railroad bridge alone. When I first heard the story I thought to myself, only here would we find someone stupid enough to drive his pickup accross a railroad bridge. After a few more years with the railroad I now know that, as this story shows, there are stupid people everywhere.
posted by Vindaloo at 10:26 AM on January 25, 2012


as this story shows, there are stupid people everywhere.

Damn raht, buddy! And I'm-a tell yew RAHT now, we got more of 'em down in Jawjuh than damn nyeer innyywhur else in tha WORLD!

I gotta scoot, now. Got me a railroad bridge tah drive over! See ya in Northern Quebec! (Thass up 'round Tennessee way, ain't it?)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:35 PM on January 25, 2012


A "street-running line," you say? I never even imagined that such a thing existed. What a remarkably stupid idea!
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 8:34 PM on January 25, 2012


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