House proposes bill to end blocked railroad crossings

Trains Blocking Roads Bill.transfer_frame_775.jpeg
Posted at 11:29 AM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 12:36:48-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Drivers getting stuck by trains blocking busy roads could soon be a thing of the past. A bill proposed in the U.S. House aims to fix the problem.

If passed, the Don’t Block Our Communities Act would create a 10-minute time limit for when freight trains are blocking crossroads. It would also create a national blocked crossing database, and require railroad companies to establish a public point of contact for all blocked crossing matters. The bill also gives the U.S. Secretary of Transportation the power to fine railroads not in compliance.

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) introduced the bill with Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.). His office released a statement, saying in part: “Middle Tennesseans know all about the inconveniences and safety concerns of rail crossings that are blocked for unreasonably long times, sometimes even hours. It’s frustrating and dangerous. Freight railroads have had ample time to respect drivers; now it’s up to Congress to step in and fix the problem.”

This has been an on-going issue, and Rep. Cooper’s Office said they've gotten countless complaints.

Just last month, a Bedford County man died after first responders were delayed by a train stopped on the tracks.

At the state level, lawmakers recently passed a bill making TDOT report annually the data collected from the Federal Railroad Administration's blocked railroads reporting website.