Stopped at the tracks

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 30, 2006

Selmians complain wait is too long



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Selma residents are again complaining about long trains that have been blocking railroad crossings in the heart of time.

During Monday’s meeting of the Selma City Council, members expressed concern over the amount of time cargo trains have blocked railroad crossings. While motorists waiting for passing trains is nothing new, residents saying the waits are getting longer.

City officials said public safety may become an issue, since nothing can cross three-fourths of the town when a train is stopped &045; including an ambulance during an emergency. The two companies with operations in Selma, Norfolk Southern Railway, and M&B Railroad, will be contacted by the city in search of a solution.

Attempts to reach a company spokesperson at either were unsuccessful.

Train companies have been issued citations of $500 for blocking traffic for more than 10 minutes, city officials said, and several citations have already been issued according to Mayor James Perkins Jr. A passing train on Wednesday halted traffic for about eight minutes during the lunch hour. Vehicles were backed up to Dallas Avenue, past City Hall.

There have been reports of motorists waiting for up to 30 minutes or more to cross the train tracks. Councilman Cecil Williamson said one recent blockage was excessive and &8220;made people late for work and children late for school.&8221;

Two motorists on their way to lunch said they didn’t mind waiting because the railways mean a lot to the local economy. They said they counted 118 train cars, which is short in comparison those slow trains with more than 160 cars.