New State Law Allowing Law Enforcement To Fine Trains For Blocking Traffic Goes Into Effect
OKLAHOMA CITY - Starting Monday, July 1 railroads in Oklahoma can be fined for blocking traffic for more than 10 minutes.
House Bill 2472 gives Oklahoma Highway Patrol, local police and sheriff's deputies authority to file reports with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for stationary trains, which could result in up to a $1,000 fine.
“It just makes me mad, because it takes time out of my day and it runs my gas out,” Brittani Daniels said. “At the same time, it’s costing me money just to drive around the train tracks.”
The Corporation Commission did a study in 2018 that found an Edmond intersection was blocked a total of 53 hours and 15 minutes over a one-month period.
There are exceptions when a train is allowed to block the roadway for prolonged period, including in order to allow an oncoming train to pass.
It’s up to each municipality and agency to decide how to enforce the new law. Oklahoma City Police say they are prepared to start generating reports.
According to the department, “The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) promulgates rules regulating the operation of railroad companies in the state, and they are also the entity identified in the bill as responsible for enforcing its provisions. There is no criminal offense created by this bill; it is strictly an administrative action that is presented to the OCC.”
Officers would have to watch the train to verify it did not move forward to backwards for more than 10 minutes before filing a report with the Municipal Counselor’s Office. That office would generate a petition with the City versus the railroad company. That petition would then be heard before the Corporation Commission where the officer could be called to appear as a witness.