Train crossing causes potentially dangerous traffic delays for Michigan city

Credit: Justin Russell/FreeImages

Credit: Justin Russell/FreeImages

Drivers in a Michigan city are fed up with a train crossing that’s notorious for delaying traffic -- and one man recently reported being stuck at the crossing for more than two hours.

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Woodhaven residents have complained about the train crossing at Van Horn Road for years, WXYZ-TV reported. On Wednesday, State Rep. Darrin Camilleri posted to Facebook Wednesday that one of his constituents recently complained about being stuck at the crossing for two hours.

“A resident today sent me live updates as he was stuck at the train crossing on Van Horn. He was there when the gates went down and stayed through two trains stopping traffic. Drivers were stuck for TWO HOURS AND FIVE MINUTES,” Camilleri wrote. “This is ridiculous.”

While the wait is inconvenient, residents are also worried about what the train crossing could mean for ambulances that are trying to come through. In 2017, 82-year-old Arvid Eliason was on his way to a hospital after suffering a head injury when the ambulance he was in was stopped at the train crossing for 20 minutes. Eliason died a few days later, and his son, Robert Eliason, told The News-Herald of Southgatein May of last year that he can't help but wonder if those 20 minutes would have made a difference in his father's survival.

After Arvid Eliason’s death, the city erected signs that read, “This railroad crossing and Van Horn Road are the responsibility of Wayne County.” They also direct drivers to contact Canadian National Railroad, which operates many trains in the area.

“Canadian National is a Goliath,” Robert Eliason said. “They don’t care about us at all. They could at least help with infrastructure.”

Rep. Camilleri said he’s trying to secure funding from the state to fix the problem, but told WXYZ-TV he knows attempts to do so have been unsuccessful in the past. He said it could cost at least $12.5 million.

“We have to spend money to get it accomplished,” Camilleri said. “If we don’t, then this issue will never go away. We’re literally putting people’s lives at risk, and this is not how we should be operating with this.”

Canadian National Railroad released the following statement to the News-Herald in May of last year:

“CN continuously works to minimize instances of blocked crossings. Van Horn crosses the rail line right outside the edge of a rail yard where rail cars coming to and from local businesses are brought to be placed on other trains, including hundreds of rail cars carrying finished vehicles from around southeast Michigan. … Over the years, CN representatives in our Flat Rock location have worked with emergency services to maintain open communications in the event of an emergency and CN has supported city efforts to secure additional funding for proposed grade separations.”

When WXYZ-TV asked about the recent two hours some drivers reportedly waited, Canadian National said, “CN will be reviewing existing communications protocols with all parties involved in order to prevent further incidents from impacting commuters.”

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