We received a complaint that the railroad had blocked a Marquette crossing for an extended period of time, somewhere around 50 minutes.
I spoke with the Iowa Department of Transportation Rail Transportation Bureau this morning. Iowa Code 327G.32 does prohibit the blockage of a crossing for no more than 10 minutes unless four broadly defined exceptions are met.
However, the courts have ruled against the state and identified the regulation of the railroad falls under the authority of the federal government. To date, this has not been addressed.
What can we do?
The railroad is required by federal law to post a sign at each public and private railroad crossings. These signs are blue in color and list an 800 number followed by a series of letters and numbers.
The 800 number is a direct line to the railroad’s dispatch center. The series of letters and numbers are specific to each crossing.
The Bureau encourages all persons affected by a blocked railroad crossing longer than 10 minutes to call the 800 number. Federal law requires the railroad to log and monitor these incoming calls.
In the meantime, the Bureau will contact the railroad companies about the complaints in Marquette and McGregor.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) created an app that identifies all public and private railroad crossings and their specific crossing number. This app is GPS enable to assist in finding the correct crossing. This app is available through Google Play and the Apple Store by searching “Rail Crossing Locator.” (Links are posted below.)
If you do not have a smart phone, the toll free number to the dispatch center is 1-800-716-9132 and the local crossing numbers are:
- River Road/Sewer Plant: 376-173E
- Beer & Bratz Garden: 376-176A
- Boatels: 376-177G
- Marquette North Crossing: 179-N
- Marquette South Crossing: 178-N
- Under the Bridge (Boat Landing): 181W
- Marquette Overlook: 182D
-Robert Millin, Chief of Police