Residents throughout Districts 6 and 7 have been experiencing an increased number of trains blocking intersections in recent weeks.
Council President Wardine Alexander and President Pro Tem Crystal Smitherman have brought this issue to Mayor Randall Woodfin’s administration to help seek a solution from federal regulators.
According to representatives with the railroad companies, CSX and Norfolk Southern, the stoppage is due to nationwide employee shortages along with federal COVID-19 vaccine requirements, which has caused additional shortage in staffing for the companies. Crews are working to separate train cars to allow for traffic flow on the Greensprings corridor, Pearson Ave and 15th Place in West End (District 6) and Jefferson Ave SW (District 7)
“This is more than a public nuisance that causes traffic delays — it’s a public safety issue,” President Alexander explained. “I want our residents to understand that this is a federal issue and we are working with our partners to help resolve this as quickly as possible because it is wholly unacceptable that we have this many trains blocking public rights-of-way in our city for extended periods of time.”
Trains blocking intersections can have a detrimental impact on first responders and other emergency vehicles. According to Alabama Title Code 45–37A-56.70 it is unlawful for a train to block any public street, road or highway for more than five minutes within the limits of a Class 1 Municipality. Alexander and Smitherman said that residents have been dealing with these kinds of delays for weeks in their districts.
“We’ve been in touch with residents since this issue was brought to our attention late last week,” President Pro Tem Smitherman said. “Not only are these companies dealing with staffing shortages, but federal vaccine mandates have caused workers to leave the job. Unfortunately this has resulted in trains being left on the tracks blocking traffic for unacceptably long periods of time.”
“We understand that COVID-19 has created many unforeseen logistical difficulties. However, it’s my hope that we can bring these railroad companies to the table and have a discussion about this issue and move forward in a way that beneficial to our residents as well as the companies,” President Alexander said. “I’d like to thank the Mayor and his administration for their continued help with this public safety hazard.”