Fight to get trains moving continues in Plymouth-Canton area

Officials helpless as CSX Transportation is under federal regulation

PLYMOUTH, Mich. – There have been several reports of trains blocking crossings for long periods of time in Southeast Michigan, and the fallout from those delays has continued.

But the over-arching problem is local authorities are helpless as the train company, CSX Transportation, is under federal regulation.

As much as people complain about the trains, they said they don't hate them. They've coexisted for 100 years, but since CSX isn't listening to them, they hope the company will listen to Washington.

"It could be five minutes, 20 minutes," said Marisa Tressler, of Hermann's Olde Town Grille. "It could be an hour. It definitely hurts our lunch business."

Tressler is trying to run a restaurant in downtown Plymouth.

"They have a limited time for lunch and they think it's easier to go to Northville or Five Mile because, 'If I get caught by the train, I'll be late getting back,'" Tressler said.

Kristi Holmes said her daughter has already been late for school three times this year when the bus driver was caught behind the train.

"It has a ripple effect," Holmes said. "She ended up making the decision to reroute, since she was this late, and just drop the busload of kids off at school and then came back for my daughter."

Canton public safety director Joshua Meier and other area officials met with CSC in 2015, and again last year.

"It's not just a Canton problem," Meier said. "It's a Southeast Michigan problem. We were hopefully optimistic when we left that meeting, and we saw a brief relax where CSX corrected the problem, but now we're back to square one."

CSX Transportation apologized to the people affected in a statement, which read, in part:

"We understand the frustration of local residents and drivers, and we continue to take this matter very seriously. CSX appreciates the community's patience as we work through this issue."

The apology wasn't good enough for Rep. Dave Trott, who is calling for congressional examination of the issue in the name of safety.

"Any time there's an emergency, minutes are essential," Trott said. "Seconds are essential. If I can't get a fire truck to the scene, or an ambulance to the scene, that's a public safety issue."

There's been an uptick in accidents in the area because people gun it near the tracks, afraid of getting caught, officials said.

You can watch Jason Colthorp's full story in the video posted above.

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