Archbold Village Council will complain to federal officials about trains that blocked the Defiance Street Norfolk Southern railroad crossing much of Saturday, Aug. 16.
“I know railroads are federally regulated, and they can give us the middle finger anytime they want,” Jeff Fryman, councilman, said during the Monday, Aug. 18 council meeting.
But he still called for village officials to voice their concerns to Bob Latta, U.S. congressman (R-Bowling Green), who represents Archbold.
An NS train carrying shipping containers blocked the crossing for at least eight hours Saturday.
Reports say the train stopped at 5:30 am; but some say it was 4:30 am.
It remained there until about 1:30 pm.
A second train stopped in the crossing at about 8:50 pm that evening and remained there until about 10:30 pm, said Martin Schmidt, police chief.
A similar situation occurred late Friday afternoon.
But in each case, while the Defiance Street crossing was blocked, the Franklin Street crossing was open.
Fryman said the blocked crossing created headaches for police and motorists.
Because Defiance Street is also St. Rt. 66, it’s frequently used by semis.
Trucks waited, thinking the train would move soon, and then had to back up and be rerouted to Franklin Street, passing through residential neighborhoods.
Vaughn Bentz, councilman, noted that when the eastbound train stopped, there were only five cars west of the Defiance Street crossing.
Why didn’t train crews pull forward just enough to free the crossing?
Fryman said he called the Norfolk Southern police number, 877-201-4265. The number is posted on the poles of the crossing gates and lights.
He said the woman who answered the phone explained the train was stopped because the train crew had “run out of hours.”
Federal law limits the number of hours a train crew can work.
If a crew’s time runs out before the train arrives at its destination, it must stop and wait for a relief crew.
“The crew couldn’t work five more minutes to get the train off the crossing?” Fryman asked.
Fryman said the woman he spoke to said the problem had occurred on several trains up and down the tracks.
Stopped trains were causing bottlenecks.
He quoted the woman as saying, “I don’t know what to tell you.”
Kevin Eicher, councilman, said communities in other counties which are crossed by CSX railroad lines had similar problems with CSX trains blocking crossings.
While there was discussion about trains blocking the crossing, another train, made up mostly of tank cars, was first observed sitting on the Archbold siding on Friday.
As of late Monday night, it was still parked on the siding, its lead locomotive idling.
Dennis Howell, village administrator, said the tank cars are filled with crude oil, possibly tar sand oil from Canada.
Council passed an ordinance several years ago prohibiting NS from leaving trains idling in town on the railroad siding.
Schmidt said before the village can enforce the ordinance, the idling train must exceed a certain level of sound, expressed in decibels.
No one had checked the noise level on the parked oil train.–David Pugh