It is a frequent frustration for many families in Mid-Michigan – drivers forced to wait for what seems like an eternity while stopped at a railroad crossing.
You sit at the crossing patiently waiting for the train to pass when you see it stop and it jogs back and forth before finally making its way through.
“If I’m in a hurry, oh it’s nerve-wracking,” said Debra Dillard, Mid-Michigan resident. “You’re just hoping that the train will hurry up and go by and do what it do so you can do what you have to do.”
It turns out, trains and traffic can have a rocky relationship throughout Mid-Michigan.
“I think they think we intentionally block crossings, which that’s not the case. We prefer not to block crossings at all,” said John Rickoff, president and CEO for Lake State Railway.
Rickoff admits there are times when a train can put a snag in your trip around town.
“The need to switch cars. The need to build trains. All of that, which ends up going over crossings and does take some time,” Rickoff said.
It takes an average of 10 minutes, Rickoff said.
He said there are always exceptions to that, but said moving freight along the tracks is a vital cog to the economy.
“Be patient. Second, we’re going to do everything we can to clear it as fast as we can. Sometimes that takes longer than we want it to,” Rickoff said.
There are no rules or regulations in Michigan on how long a train can block a road.
Rickoff said in many instances streets weren’t even in existence when the rails were built.
“We’re operating on private property. Probably in most cases we were there well before the roads were,” Rickoff said.
He insists his company is doing everything it can to be a good neighbor and reduce disruptions.
As for Dillard, she hopes the next time she gets stopped by a train she is not in a hurry.
“I understand it from the working point, but I wish that the hours were better,” she said.
Rickoff said you have a higher probability of getting stuck by a train during morning and evening rush hour.
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