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House Bill 122 filed to end lengthy train blockages

Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 10:06 PM CST
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COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - Have you ever been stopped in your tracks because of a train? House Bill 122 is trying to stop that from happening especially in the event of an emergency.

“So many times an ambulance does have to divert all the way around or through another city just to access back to the hospital or even responding from the hospital to an emergency scene,” said Colbert County EMA Director, Michael Smith.

But that’s not all the havoc stalled trains cause for first responders in Colbert County.

“A lot of the time we’ll have to call for a backup unit from a different jurisdiction to come in and run a call because they can get there quicker even though it was a further distance away just because of the way the track was blocked and the ambulance would have to wait for the train to move,” said Smith.

House Bill 122 is trying to prevent events like this from happening.

The House passed the bill that says besides for mechanical failure or federal law requiring the stop, local law enforcement can order a train to be cut, moved, or separated if it’s been on the tracks for at least two hours or an emergency vehicle approaches.

“It’s going to be a tremendous help, not only for traffic flow but also for emergency response,” said Smith.

The bill will also fine the operator a penalty of $5,000 for every extra hour the train blocks the crossing, up to $50,000 a day.

The bill still needs to be passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor before it would go into effect.

The train operator, Norfolk Southern, said in a statement the following:

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