Tuesday, July 7, 2015
From the Marshfield, WI. Herald: Canadian National Railway Co. has been issued 46 citations over the past 16 months by Wood County deputies, accusing the company of illegally blocking streets in Auburndale for extended periods of time.
The company has paid several of the $452 fines that came with the citations, but now it has decided enough is enough, and is arguing that the county is powerless to regulate it or prevent it from blocking intersections.
Railroad attorneys, who say the citations also should be issued to Wisconsin Central Ltd. railroad, say in court documents that the Federal Railroad Safety Act and Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act prevent local governments from taking actions that interfere with interstate railroad movement. Federal secretaries of transportation and homeland security oversee train movements, the company argues, and local governments have no say in how they operate.
Wood County, though, is fighting back. The Federal Railroad Safety Act gives a specific exception to the federal laws cited by railroad attorneys, Wood County Assistant District Attorney Derek Dominguez wrote in court records. The county ordinance that prohibits halted trains from blocking any road for more than 10 minutes does not put an unreasonable burden on the railroad, he said.
A Wood County judge is expected to issue a ruling on the matter this week.
At issue in the case are roads in Aurburndale, where railroad tracks cut across three roads that give village residents access to businesses, Auburndale public works superintendent John Spatz said in court documents. Stopped trains frequently block those roads and those delays threaten public safety, Spatz said.
A public works manager for Wisconsin Central Ltd. said the situation in Wood County is not unique. County highways run close to and parallel to many railroads across the state. When trains that are long enough are stopped in the communities, they block all railroad crossings, she said in her statement.
Wood County Judge Todd Wolf is scheduled to issue a decision on the 32 citations on Wednesday afternoon. http://www.marshfieldnewsherald.com/story/news/local/2015/07/07/canadian-national-railroad-fights-auburndale-traffic-citations/29810009/
This is a dilemma for many cities that have railroads run through their town. And the train crew has a set amount of hours they can work, I believe 12 hours, and when their time is done, they will stop the train, most of the time the crew doesn't care where they stop or what streets they block.
And for many cities, the train tracks go through the middle of town, so when the train stops for whatever reason, the train will mostly likely block some main streets of the community, and understandably, the towns and cities are ticked off.
So, I don't blame the communities for writing the tickets but d the have the legal right to do so? The railroads are governed by the federal government. Do we really want every local community to set their own laws for the railroads? The community may set their own speed limit for the trains, tell them what hours they can run etc.
So, it will be interesting to see what will happen in this case, whether the local community wins or the railroad.