On November 17, 2000, about 4:35 p.m., eastern standard time, near Intercession City, Florida, a 23-axle, heavy-haul vehicle, operated by Molnar Worldwide Heavy Haul Company, was delivering a condenser to the Kissimmee Utility Authority Cane Island Power Plant. The private access road to the plant crossed over a single railroad track owned by CSX Transportation, Inc. As the vehicle, traveling between 1 and 3 mph, crossed the tracks, the crossing warning devices activated and the gates came down on the load. Seconds later, Amtrak train 97, operated by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, collided with the right side of the rear towed four-axle tractor. No injuries occurred. The collision destroyed the tractor and caused over $200,000 damage to the train and crossing signals.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigated a similar accident that occurred on November 30, 1993, at the same location (Highway Accident Report NTSB/HAR-95/01). In that accident, an overdimenson, low-clearance vehicle operated by Rountree Transport and Rigging, Inc., was en route to deliver an 82-ton turbine to the electricity generating plant. The cargo deck of the transporter bottomed out on the roadway surface as the vehicle moved across the tracks. To gain sufficient clearance, the four-member truck crew shimmed the transporter while the cargo deck was on the tracks. About 12:40 p.m., the lights and bells at the grade crossing activated; the crossing gates descended, striking the turbine. Seconds later, Amtrak train 88, carrying 10 crewmembers and 89 passengers, struck the side of the cargo deck and the turbine. Six people sustained serious injuries and 53 suffered minor injuries. The vehicle and turbine were destroyed; the locomotive and first three railcars were damaged extensively. Total damage exceeded $14 million.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the November 2000 collision of Amtrak train 97 with the tractor-combination vehicle was the failure of the Kissimmee Utility Authority, its construction contractors and subcontractors, and the motor carrier to provide for the safe passage of the load over the grade crossing.
The following safety issues were identified in this accident.
- The ineffective execution of the roles and responsibilities of the power company and its contractors and subcontractors, the Florida Department of Transportation, the motor carrier, the truckdriver, and pilot car drivers in planning and effecting the movement of this oversize load;
- The adequacy of the railroad notification requirement;
- The consistency and availability of information regarding railroad notification; and
- The lack of low-clearance warning signs and standard 1-800 emergency number signs.
As a result of this accident investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board makes recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws & Ordinances, the Kissimmee Utility Authority, and all class 1 and regional railroads.
As a result of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following safety recommendations:
To the Federal Highway Administration and the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws & Ordinances:
Revise Uniform Vehicle Code, Section 11-703, to define which vehicles, under what circumstances, need to notify the railroad before crossing a highway-rail grade crossing. (H-02-07)
To the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:
Amend the Code of Federal Regulations 383.51 (e), "Disqualification for railroad-highway grade crossing violation," to include a violation for drivers of low-clearance or slow-moving vehicles who fail to notify and make arrangements with the railroad for safe passage, when required. (H-02-08)
To the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials:
Encourage the States, once the Uniform Vehicle Code, Section 11-703, has been revised, (a) to adopt the revised Uniform Vehicle Code, Section 11-703, (b) to include vehicle ground clearance as part of the permitting process, and (c) to require permitted slow-moving vehicles and those permitted vehicles that do not meet the ground-clearance provisions of the Uniform Vehicle Code to conduct route surveys. (H-02-09)
Encourage the States, once the revised Uniform Vehicle Code, Section 11-703, has been adopted, to include the text of the revised State statute on the face of permits. (H-02-10)
Encourage the States to conduct initial and recurrent training for State employees in the permit offices and State employees involved in commercial vehicle enforcement regarding the railroad notification requirements. (H-02-11)
To all Class 1 and Regional Railroads:
Provide easily accessed contact and notification information for use by vehicle operators requiring railroad assistance to ensure safety at grade crossings. (H-02-12)
To the Kissimmee Utility Authority:
Require that the CSX Transportation, Inc., railroad is notified in advance of accepting delivery by any low-clearance or slow-moving vehicles. (H-02-13)
Install low-clearance highway-rail grade crossing signs (W10-5s) at the KUA Power Road crossing. (H-02-14)
Previously Issued Recommendation Classified in This Report
Safety Recommendation H-95-1248 (previously classified "Open-Await Response") is classified "Open-Acceptable Alternate Response."