While the city of Abilene does have a code limiting the time a train can block traffic at a city street intersection, it is not enforceable, said Abilene Police Chief Mike Mohn.
The Abilene Police Department fielded a number of questions after a train blocked traffic on the south side of Abilene at First Street for over an hour, backing up traffic for seven blocks on Buckeye Avenue around noon Friday.
“Right now we can’t enforce state and local laws,” Mohn said.
The courts have determined that state and local laws are preempted by either the Commerce Commission Termination Act, the Federal Railroad Safety Act, or both.
Mohn said that in an emergency, Dickinson County dispatch can contact the railroad.
“We would try to do what we can to either to get them to move or to break it,” Mohn said.
Currently the city does have a code covering crossings which reads, “Every corporation owning or operating a railway within the corporate limits of the city which railway crosses any street is hereby prohibited from allowing its trains, engines or cars to stand upon any crossing or street for a period exceeding ten (10) minutes at any one time without leaving an opening in the traveled portion of the crossing or street at least thirty (30) feet in width. As provided by Section 5-302, BLOCKING CROSSINGS, a violation shall constitute an unclassified misdemeanor.”
Contact Tim Horan at email@example.com.