PRINCETON — Gibson County Board of Commissioners President Steve Bottoms says that while the Indiana Supreme Court has upheld a railroad's challenge to fines assessed for blocked railroad crossings, the state's U.S. Senators are asking for public input to the Federal Railroad Administration regarding the issue.
Locally, residents have complained about crossings being blocked on county roads and the Gibson County Sheriff's Department has issued tickets to trains for excessive time blocking crossings.
Bottoms said that although the state's highest court sided with Norfolk Southern in a northern Indiana case, "it looks as if it has become a federal issue."
Senators Todd Young and Mike Braun issued a joint press release this week reporting that Federal Railroad Administration is seeking information from the public on blocked railroad crossings, and encouraging Hoosiers to provide input.
On June 14, the administration issued a federal register notice to obtain information regarding the frequency, location, and impacts of highway-rail grade crossings blocked by slow-moving or idling trains. The solicitation notes the potential safety concerns with crossings that are blocked by trains, including that emergency response vehicles may be significantly delayed from responding to an incident or transporting patients to a hospital.
The administration proposes to add new dedicated links to its existing website and its existing phone app for users to report blocked crossings to simplify the reporting of blocked crossing information and standardize the data received.
“Hoosiers deserve a straightforward approach about information regarding blocked railroad crossings and I commend the Federal Railroad Administration’s willingness to work with all parties involved on this important issue,” said Braun, a Jasper Republican.
The link to provide input to the FRA is located at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/06/14/2019-12572/proposed-agency-information-collection-activities-comment-request.