Is anyone having trouble with trains blocking public/private roads for excessive times? Williamson and Milam Counties (at least) have trains which are blocking roads for more than one hour on occasion. RRs say, "So what?". Milam county will be asking for an AG opinion on Freiburg case concerning safety issues. Need the State involved, so it can be litigated in federal courts without excessive cost to counties.
We had a problem with that at one time, also. The Chief of Police got irritated enough to figure out which trains were stopping, and met a couple. He would politely ask the conductor to move the train enough to clear the road. When met with a refusal, he arrested same for obstructing a roadway. A couple of those and we had no more problem.
We use Trans. Code Sec. 471.007 to give the train engineer a ticket for obstructing a railroad crossing for more than 10 minutes. The fine is from $100 to $300.
Wayne, the town of Holland just north of your county line has had the same roadblock problem. It is my understanding that federal law relating to interstate commerce preempts state or municipal law on blocking intersections. We have had to "jawbone" the railroad to try to find some happy medium. No wonder they hated the railroads in the 1800s when ROW was freely given to them.
We have a similar problem in Kyle. Sometimes the railroad will have all three crossings blocked for as much as 40 minutes at a time. Traffic get so backed up that once the train has cleared the the police have to direct traffic until traffice is restored to a normal flow. The railroad has relied on a 5th Circuit opinion styled "Friberg v. Kansas City Southern Railway" (forgive me, I don't have the cite) to assert their "right" to block the roadways.
The Friberg case dealt with the economic impact freqent road blocking caused to a private business. The 5th Circuit denied the business relief. Interestingly, in a footnote the Court noted as follows: "It is important to note that we are not faced with, and do not herein decide, what impact the ICCTA would have upon a state provision pertaining strictly to such traditionally state-controlled safety issues as local law enforcement and emergency vehicle access." Perhaps the citations and/or arrests are justified from a community safety perspective.
I liked the idea of arresting the conductor for obstructing a highway. That might get more attention than a weanie Class "C" ticket. Thanks for the posts.
Sorry about the typos in the previous post. The railroad issue really get's me steamed. (pun intended)
Thanks for the responses. The footnote in Freiburg case will be the basis for the AG Opinion request. We have arrested/ticketed also, but the RR attorneys show up and let the Judge (JP or Muni) know that they will appeal up the federal chain - Much $ involved, so our JP cases are just being held.
If you could give me specifics on the occurrences you mentioned, we can use that in our statistick for the AG opinion.
I had an old former district judge call me once and demand that I move the train that was blocking access to his ranch. I just thought he was nuts. Maybe I was too rash.
Wayne: I'll see if I can get some more details from our PD in Kyle that I can send to you.
|Powered by Social Strata|
© TDCAA, 2001. All Rights Reserved.