TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Town of Tonawanda Police have issued a formal complaint against railroad company CSX. It’s their response to what they call a “significant inconvenience” when a train blocked traffic for hours earlier this month.
On February 9th, a CSX train was stopped at a railroad crossing on Woodward Avenue, just west of Military Road. Traffic was blocked for more than two hours that morning.
“I would describe it as surprising,” Town of Tonawanda Police Lieutenant Thomas Haynes said that day.
Police said CSX officials told them the train stopped because its crew had reached its maximum operating time limit.
On February 14th, Town of Tonawanda Police Chief Jerome Uschold sent a letter to Federal Railroad Administration officials in Cambridge, MA, asking that they investigate the incident.More: Read Letter Here
“Woodward Avenue is a truck route and is utilized by emergency, commercial, and pedestrian traffic,” Chief Uschold wrote. “Attempts by our dispatchers to reach a local CSX supervisor (that day) were unsuccessful. This incident cause a significant inconvenience.”
FRA officials confirmed they received the letter Wednesday.
“Our regional office communicated with both the Town of Tonawanda Police Chief and CSX Transportation, which we asked to look into this incident and take steps to prevent a future recurrence,” FRA spokesperson Desiree French told News 4.
A CSX spokesperson said they take concerns over blocked crossings very seriously.
“We are reviewing our operations in the area, while also keeping an open line of communication with local officials in Tonawanda,” the CSX spokesperson said through a statement. “Our goal is to serve our customers safely and efficiently, while working to keep both rail and roadway traffic fluid.”
Uschold released an official statement on the road blockage. Read it here:
As most of you are aware, on 2/9/18 at approximately 830am CSX called the Town of Tonawanda PD to inform us that a train was blocking the crossing at Woodward Ave in our Town, and that it would remain closed for a couple of hours until they could get another crew to operate the train. The crossing was blocked until after 11am, effectively closing that portion of Woodward Ave to any traffic. The PD took this very seriously because Woodward is a truck route and a direct route for emergency vehicles into the Riverview neighborhood coming from the south side of Town. At the time, we were unable to get any satisfactory answers from CSX.
A letter of complaint was sent to the Federal Railroad Administration, asking them to investigate the incident. We spoke to them Tuesday, and they indicated they were investigating, and the incident was “unacceptable”. CSX then contacted me yesterday, Thursday 2/22, and explained that this should not have happened. They said this was a miscommunication between the rail yard and the train operators, and that CSX will make every effort to prevent a reoccurrence.
We did not find any malfeasance on the part of CSX, and as far as the TTPD is concerned, the matter is closed.
Chief Jerry Uschold
Town of Tonawanda Police Department
There is currently no federal regulation specifying how long a train can idle at a railroad crossing, according to FRA officials.