HALIFAX, N.C. — There was time enough to warn train dispatchers as a 127-ton tractor-trailer, so big and heavy that it required a special permit and a state trooper escort, tried to negotiate a difficult turn across the tracks.

But there’s no indication anyone alerted Amtrak before a passenger train slammed into the truck Monday in North Carolina, injuring 55 people.

The truck was hauling an electrical distribution center nearly 16 feet tall and 16 feet wide, built by PCX Corp. in Clayton, North Carolina, for a customer in New Jersey.

The load stretched for 164 feet – longer than half a football field – and required 13 axles to distribute the truck and load’s combined weight of 255,000 pounds, the permit shows.

“It was a big project,” Dean A. Di Lillo, a PCX Corp. vice president, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. He declined to put a value on Monday’s destruction.

The tractor-trailer’s back-roads route required tight squeezes, including the left turn where it got stuck in Halifax while moving over the tracks from one two-lane road to another.

Amber Keeter, 19, was stuck in traffic in her car with her baby directly behind the tractor-trailer as it tried to make the turn where highways U.S. 301 and N.C. 903 meet.

She told the AP that the driver’s team and the trooper spent considerable time trying to prepare for the crossing, and then got stuck on the tracks for about 8 minutes before the train roared around a curve.

“It was so long they couldn’t make the turn,” Keeter said.

Protocol calls for troopers escorting trucks to “clear their routes and inform the railroad dispatchers what they’re doing,” said Steve Ditmeyer, a former Federal Railroad Administration official who teaches railway management at Michigan State University. Even if they lose contact, they can reach a dispatcher through toll-free numbers that have been posted at these crossings for decades, he said.

“That dispatcher would have immediately put up a red signal for Amtrak and radioed Amtrak to stop,” he said.

But State Highway Patrol spokesman Jeff Gordon said truck drivers, not troopers, are responsible for warning off trains.

Most people treated at hospitals were released by Tuesday. A passenger who escaped injury, Lisa Carson, 50, of Philadelphia, said, “We’re just thankful that we’re still alive. … God was really with us.”