INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – After hearing complaints from residents for months, Marion County leaders are finding new ways to track how often trains are blocking crossings. The hope is that the statistics will help the county gain a better understanding of how serious the problem has become and explore ways to hold train companies accountable.
The county's 911 call center has rolled out a new code for calls related to trains stopped on the tracks and impacting traffic. According to Indiana law, a train cannot be stopped at a crossing for more than 10 minutes.
"We’re able to produce wide variety of reports which can help prosecutor’s office or any other government entity that needs info to discuss the issue," said Major Michael Hubbs about the new code dispatchers are using. "When we have those meetings with train officials, we can report how many times we’ve received a call."
The new code is the result of a meeting between city county councilors, the Indianapolis Mayor's Office, Marion County Prosecutor's Office and Sheriff's Office.
Since the new code was rolled out on April 20, the 911 call center has received 14 complaints about trains blocking roads.
"Here in Marion County, we are trying to step up and take the action we can when it’s possible," Hubbs said.
People who live in the Holy Cross neighborhood say they are growing tired of being stuck on the road due to a stopped train.
"The train pretty much stops at the worst possible times," said Kassi Heidenreich, who lives in the neighborhood. "You see it right around 7:30, 8 a.m., 8:30."
Heidenreich said the stoppages are long. She has documented a train stopped for 45 minutes and other neighbors report even longer disruptions. She said she is glad to hear local leaders are taking some action to alleviate the problems.
"The fact that they’re actually doing something about it and there’s a way to document it now and a way to make them and hold them accountable. I think it’s awesome," Heidenreich said.
The Marion County Prosecutor's Office said:
"Our office is involved in discussions on how best to resolve the situation so that stopped trains are not a problem for those traveling our roadways, including motorists and public safety personnel. We look forward to playing our role in that work."
FOX59 reached to CSX for comment about this development. A spokesperson sent us this statement:
“Safety is our top priority. While we were not aware of this new data function, we frequently work with our public partners, 911 Dispatch Centers, as well as with emergency responders, on public safety issues. We are aware residents are frustrated with our local operations. Indianapolis plays a vital role in the delivery of goods to the nation’s economy. CSX continues to work to increase fluidity and mitigate blocked crossings in the area.”
If you encounter a train stopped at a crossing for more than 10 minutes, you're asked to call 311.