Selma Police make good on mayor’s threat

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 8, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

At a meeting held just weeks ago, Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. said the city would more strictly enforce an ordinance that disallows the blocking of a city street for more than 10 minutes.

Wednesday afternoon, that proved to be more than just a bluff.

At approximately 1:45 p.m., a Selma police officer responded to a railroad crossing in the area of Broad Street. He later located the front of the train, run on the M&B Railroad line, at Water Avenue.

“We just have to think about safety,” said Selma Police Chief Jimmy Martin. “We have emergency response personnel that this is stopping from getting to persons north and south of the tracks. This covers a great distance. Several streets are blocked when this happens.”

Martin pointed out that the train was given ample opportunity to clear the crossing.

“A very unreasonable amount of time had elapsed before a citation was even considered,” he said.

After a complaint that the train had been still for more than 30 minutes, a citation was issued to the Yardmaster of M&B Railroad.

The blockage violated Section 21-85 of the City of Selma Municipal Ordinance that states the maximum blocking time for any city street is not to exceed 10 minutes. Violation of the ordinance carries a maximum fine of $500.

The blockage of streets coupled with the poor condition of some railroad crossings led to a meeting between railroad officials and city leaders in late March.

Perkins said the city would enforce the ordinance due to the safety problems it posed.

Several of the crossings, when blocked, would hinder – or possibly stop – emergency personnel getting from one end of the city to the other.

“This is not something to be taken lightly,” Martin said. “It could result in (the loss of) a human life. It affects rescue workers, us being able to assist other officers, even people just getting to work. Hopefully, this will send a message.

“It’s a problem – a public safety problem.”