Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Train delays prompt public safety concerns in Romulus

Kevin Krause, Romulus director of Fire Services and Emergency Management was among those who joined Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Haley Stevens (D-MI), and Tim Walberg (R-MI)  to discuss the urgent need to work together to face challenges at a number of railroad crossings in Western Wayne and Monroe Counties. Also at the meeting were Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Director Paul Ajegba along with several Wayne County mayors and other public safety officials, railroad representatives, and local business leaders.
 As a manufacturing hub of world, Michigan depends on a strong rail transportation system. There are numerous sites in Southeast Michigan where trains have blocked roadways, at times for hours, causing public safety concerns and serious inconveniences for motorists, especially when trains block intersections for hours which they have on numerous occasions, the officials told railroad representatives.

“Everyone understands there's a problem. Once again we heard devastating stories of lives threatened by blocked train crossings on roads in our community. It's on all of us to work together to figure this out,” said Dingell. “Last week in Washington, I met with Federal Railroad Administrator Ronald Batory - who is from Michigan and lived in Dearborn for several years. Our group will continue to meet regularly, be inclusive of everyone affected, and ensure that everyone is on the same page, rowing in the same direction that helps address every community's issues. These problems impact us all, and we need a commitment from everyone on a plan that helps all of us.”
“The impacts that train blockages have on local communities are real,” said Kause, “First responders are delayed on a regular basis which means our community suffers not only in times of emergency, but also daily as it affects their quality of life. It is imperative that there is a bi-partisan effort between Federal and State Legislators along with Michigan Department of Transportation for collaborative solutions that provide immediate and long term relief.”
“For too long, communities in southeast Michigan have dealt with railroad crossings that block roadways for long periods of time,” said Stevens. “These blocked roadways aren't just an inconvenience, they put Michiganders in danger by delaying first responders. I look forward to working with state and local leaders to find solutions that prioritize public safety while acknowledging the importance of rail transportation to our manufacturing economy.”
This meeting followed a meeting last month where the attendees agreed to establish a working group to address both short-term and long-term issues to be led by Ajegba, Michigan Railroad Association President Jon Cool, Dingell, and other representatives.