Stopped trains still an issue, law enforcement options limited

It does not matter if it is ten minutes or ten days, local authorities say the railroad company gets one ticket for a stopped train blocking a crossing.

Posted: Feb. 20, 2018 9:33 PM
Updated: Feb. 20, 2018 11:12 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A local couple says they are prisoners in their own home because a train will stop at the crossing nearby for hours and even days at a time.

News 10's Heather Good helped Art Blankenship file a report with CSX in early February. That story can be found here. Since that time, Blankenship has been in contact with CSX but says trains are still stopping at the crossing at the end of 58th Street.

It does not matter if it is ten minutes or ten days, local authorities say the railroad company gets one ticket for a stopped train blocking a crossing. The cost to companies like CSX in two hundred dollars for the ticket plus court costs. The citations are mailed to the CSX office in Jacksonville, Florida.

Lieutenant Brent Hall of the Vigo County Sheriff's Office says, "As far as our hands, law enforcement's hands, we're tied. There's nothing, other than citing the company, there's nothing that we can do."

Lt. Hall says he has responded to calls at the end of 58th Street before.

"The last time that I personally went up, I went to the locomotive which was at Mill Dam and asked them to break the train at 58th and they did, so they can do it. There's a remedy for that it's just a matter of if they'll do it or not."

The Blankenship's say they've already had health scares and help could not get to them because a train was stopped at the crossing. Lt. Hall says safety is his biggest concern.

"If there's a fire and there's a train on that crossing, they're going to watch a house burn down and there's nothing they're going to be able to do about it."

Blankenship has been driving through yards to get around the stopped trains. He says the easy fix is CSX doing the right thing like splitting the train at the crossing each time it stops but it does not seem like that will happen.

Lt. Hall says, "The solution up there in the Blankenship's case is for either the county, which it shouldn't fall on the county, it should fall on the railroad, to build a road."

If the county were to put in a road from 58th Street to Scott Street it would come with a cost. The county would have to buy property and construct the road.

Lt. Hall says, "We're only talking about two families but we're talking about people, you know, that are going to need services eventually. We know that because they have. So, what's that worth?"

Blankenship is now tasked with looking for help elsewhere. He would like to speak with county commissioners about a solution and one that will hold CSX accountable.

In the meantime, Lt. Hall encourages Blankenship and anyone else with issues to keep contacting CSX and law enforcement so the problems are documented.

Lt. Hall also notes trains were not two miles long several decades ago when Blankenship moved to the property. He agrees it will be difficult for any of the families on the other side of the track to sell their homes in the future if this issue persists.

News 10 reached out to CSX but did not get a response.

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