PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Railroad crossing delays in Plymouth hit a record high Monday as a road was blocked for nine hours.
The Plymouth City Council has been deluged with calls from frustrated drivers after the delay at a crossing on Lilly Road and Ann Arbor Trail. But the city said there's nothing it can do.
Trains are regulated by the federal government, so city officials want drivers to call their congressperson, a senator or CSX Corporation.
It's also a public safety issue because police officers, firefighters and paramedics have been delayed.
"It's terrible," one driver said. "The trains stop completely, all the time."
Monday was just another day for drivers to wait as the train went by.
"The last time this happened I had a baby in the car with me," another driver said. "It was terrible. And if it's the only way you know, how are you supposed to go?"
In most cities, it's a minor headache, but in Plymouth, drivers have gotten stuck at railroad crossings for hours.
Although the city of Plymouth covers only about 2 square miles, there are seven railroad crossings. At times, all seven have been blocked simultaneously.
"We can easily be held hostage by the railroad," City Manager Paul Sincock said.
It's gotten so bad that the city has put up signs at railroad crossings that urge drivers to call CSX Corporation or their federal representatives about the delays.
"Our hands are basically tied," Sincock said. "They're not my trains. We can't do anything about it. Call your federal legislators."
Railroad rules, including how long trains can block a crossing, are regulated by the federal government. The city doesn't have a say in the operations of CSX.
"This is a significant public safety issue and the railroad doesn't seem to care," Sincock said.
"What's going to happen if a first responder needs to get through this area to help somebody? They're not going to be able to get by," a resident said.
Historically, the city could ticket a train that was stopped for too long, but CSX fought that ordinance, and that's no longer an option.
CSX Corporation didn't return any calls for comment.