TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A Wabash Valley man says he has been living on the wrong side of the tracks for decades. He says CSX trains block the crossing near his home and he cannot get in and out of his driveway.
Art Blankenship has lived in his home at the end of 58th Street for sixty-one years and he says trains have been a problem for the same sixty-one years.
"They can't use this as a train yard and that's what they're doing."
According to Blankenship, trains will block the crossing for hours and even days at a time. He says a train stopped on the tracks for seven days in a row at one point.
Blankenship's driveway connects to the end of 58th Street. When a train is stopped at the crossing, he says he has to drive through his own field and through a neighboring yard to get to another road and cross a bridge over the tracks. The neighboring property could soon be sold and he is concerned the new owners will not allow him to travel that way.
It can also be difficult to drive through the field when conditions are muddy or snowy.
The blocked crossing is also a safety concern. It made for a scary situation when Blankenship's wife needed medical help last year.
"She had a problem that I had to call 911. The EMT's couldn't get here. It was muddy. I did get through the field and barely got her in the car and I met them on the road and transferred her to their vehicle. You know, the train was there then."
Blankenship says CSX has given him various reasons for the blockage over the phone.
"The crew left the train because their driving time was up and so they just left the train. Other times they'd say well, they had train trouble or other times they just didn't know."
Now when you call CSX a message prompts callers to submit complaints online. News 10's Heather Good went through the process online and later made contact with a CSX spokesperson.
“CSX’s goal is to keep freight moving safely and efficiently and we strive to be a good neighbor in the communities where we operate. In Terre Haute, tracks from multiple railroad companies cross one another, and there are times when trains may have to stop for clearance to safely cross, and there are times when mechanical or operational issues could result in a stopped train. These are situations we work hard to avoid. We appreciate the immense patience our neighbors have demonstrated and apologize for the impact our operations are having in the area. We have elevated the issue within our operations division and will work toward improving the situation.
As it relates to emergency response, CSX aims to be a good partner, providing public officials and first responders with direct contacts for local CSX personnel, and we encourage them to call these contacts if any urgent issues arise. CSX also regularly communicates with local emergency management officials.”
Blankenship says he thinks there should be stiffer fines for blocking railroad crossings. He would also be in favor of constructing a bridge over the crossing. He says there is enough room between crossing for trains to stop nearby without blocking drivers.
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