(WKBN) – An Ohio Supreme Court ruling Wednesday says that Ohio can’t enforce a law against trains blocking railroad crossings for more than five minutes.
This decision can impact the Valley since there are many municipalities with train traffic.
The decision comes from a case in Maryville where charges were dismissed against CSX Transportation for blocking a railroad crossing. The decision comes down to how much jurisdiction the state has over the railroad.
Federal law allows states to regulate some aspects of railroad safety, but the Ohio antiblocking law doesn’t address making train operators safer, and the federal government has preempted laws that regulate time trains may stop on the tracks, wrote Justice Sharon L. Kennedy.
Drivers in the Valley know all too well how a stopped train can derail plans to get somewhere. Last year, a shift change caused a Norfolk Southern train to block a crossing on Seifert-Lewis Road in Hubbard from 10 am. to 4:50 p.m.
Justice Kennedy addressed first responders in her opinion.
“We acknowledge the significant danger to the public that is created when stopped trains obstruct the movement of first responders across railroad tracks. However, the regulation of railroad transportation is a matter of federal law, and the federal government alone has the power to address the threat to public safety caused by blocked crossings,” she wrote.