House bill

House Bill 122 filed to end long train blockages

COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) – Have you ever been stopped in your tracks because of a train? House Bill 122 tries to prevent that from happening, especially in an emergency.

“So many times an ambulance has to divert or drive through another city just to get to the hospital or even respond from the hospital to an emergency scene,” said County EMA Director Michael Smith. of Colbert.

But that’s not all the stranded trains are causing first responders in Colbert County.

“Most of the time we will have to call a rescue unit from a different jurisdiction to come and make a call because they can get there quicker even if it was further away just because of how the track was blocked .and the ambulance would have to wait for the train to move,” Smith said.

House Bill 122 attempts to prevent such events from occurring.

The House passed the bill which states that in addition to a mechanical failure or federal law requiring a stop, local law enforcement can order that a train be cut, moved or separated s he has been on the tracks for at least two hours or if an emergency vehicle is approaching.

“It will be a huge help, not only for traffic flow, but also for emergency response,” Smith said.

The bill will also fine the operator $5,000 for each additional hour the train blocks the crossing, up to $50,000 per day.

The bill still needs to be passed by the Senate and signed by the governor before taking effect.

Rail operator, Norfolk Southern, said in a statement:

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