Before you jet off to the comment section to remark about how it must be a slow news day around here, I just want to drop this in as a reminder that maybe—just maybe—someone’s had a worse day than you. Commuters in Metro Detroit faced an unexpected detour Monday when a train blocked a railroad crossing for nine hours. Officials reportedly called this “crazy.” Frustration levels are “high.” I bet.
Paul Sincock is the city manager of Plymouth, Michigan, a town that sits about 25 miles west of Detroit. On Monday, his work week began with several complaints from residents who were frustrated about a train that, for reasons that aren’t exactly clear, blocked a railroad crossing for a significant portion of the day, reports hometownlife.com.
“It was crazy,” Sincock said told the news outlet. He called the frustration level emanating from the complainants “extremely high.”
So, on Tuesday, he hopped on the phone with an official from the train’s owner, CSX Corp. Apparently, CSX has a history of laying a train across the intersection of Lilley and Fair roads for hours on end.
Here’s more from hometownlife.com:
[Sincock] said it seems as though CSX is serious about addressing an ongoing problem in a city that has seven railroad crossings. He has been told the situation should be resolved in a week to 10 days.
What is the situation? I have no idea. The story quotes Sincock as saying, “They’re working on it.” Hometownlife.com’s reporter than asked “if he believes CSX is serious.” Sincock’s reply? “I think they are.”
It’s not the first time Plymouth and CSX have locked horns. Similar promises have been made in the past to fix the problem.
“It gets fixed for a little while and then it’s back,” Sincock said.
If you live in the Detroit-area, or any town that has a heavy-rail track bisecting your streets, you’re probably used to this sort of thing—maybe lasting 10-15 minutes, maybe you decide to turn the car around and find a different route.
But nine hours? Sincock told hometownlife.com that, initially, he was told the train’s scheduling was “mixed up.” Later, the company switched stories and said the train completely broke down.
Considering that emergency vehicles and first responders only have so many routes they can take to get somewhere as quickly as possible, I imagine there’s a litany of safety problems this poses. But it turns out, Plymouth has no authority to regulate the company, hometownlife.com reports.
After an earlier court battle with CSX, Plymouth officials have concluded that only federal agencies have oversight, the news publication says. So that means nearby residents, whenever this happens, are stuck with the ringing bells of the railroad crossing, be it a few minutes or nine hours.
Nine goddamn hours. Unreal.