Corporation Commission To Look Into Fining Trains Blocking Intersections

Wednesday, January 16th 2019, 5:45 pm

It's a sight that can easily derail your whole day: a train stopped on the tracks blocking traffic in every direction.

Now, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission is looking into doing something about it.

City of Edmond spokesperson Casey Moore said they took a look at footage from a camera mounted on a building and found on Main Street between June 25, 2018 and August 5, 2018, trains blocked the intersection for a total of 53 hours and 15 minutes.

“We have 11 crossings in our city limits and our stopped train will typically block five to seven of those crossings and do so immediately,” said Moore. “Half of the crossings in our community are blocked.”

Moore testified at a Corporation Commission hearing Wednesday on the proposed rules.

“That does create issues with traffic which in turn creates an issue with public safety emergency vehicles to get where they need to,” he said.

Moore said pedestrians, including students at Edmond North High School, will sometimes crawl through the cars of stopped trains.

It's already against the rules for stopped trains to block a railroad crossing for more than 10 minutes. Commission staff is proposing changes that would allow commissioners to audit habitual offenders and increase fines to $500 per incident, per day.

“There can be several technical conferences as we move through the process and language is changes and maybe new proposals are made,” saidCorporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner.

Officials with the railroad were also at Wednesday's hearing. One attorney representing the railroads said they don’t keep track of how long they are blocking an intersection so there’s no way to do an audit.

There will be another public comment hearing on Feb. 5. Then, the commissioners are scheduled to vote on the new rules the end of February.

If commissioners agree to the rules, they will be sent to the Legislature for approval.

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