Ohio (WKBN) – The Valley has many cities that see train traffic, and now there’s a new Ohio Supreme Court Ruling that changes the law about blocked crossings.
Struthers is just one of the many cities in the area that has a railroad going through parts of town. It basically splits the city in half.
“Throughout the years we’ve had issues with the trains blocking Bridge Street,” said Struthers Police Chief Tim Roddy.
An issue that could become worse after the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling on August 17. The ruling says that Ohio can’t enforce a law anymore that prohibits trains blocking railroad crossings for more than five minutes. The issue falls under the jurisdiction of federal laws.
“When it’s an emergency, every second counts,” said Chief Roddy.
The fire department does have stations on both sides of the tracks in case of emergency. Chief Roddy says the police have an alternative route to get past a stopped train.
“If we are aware that the crossing is stopped is blocked, we can just move towards the lower connector bridge,” Chief Roddy continued.
A blocked intersection due to a train isn’t causing issues for just first responders. Also, Donavito’s which is located right next to the railroad tracks. Their customers actually have to park directly across from the tracks. Sometimes they can’t get to their cars or to the restaurant.
“I literally have taken customers home the back way just so they can get home at night time or the daytime to get back to work or ya know definitely a concern,” said Alan Donatelli, owner of Donavito’s Restaurant & Catering Co.
“If somebody would need medical attention inside the restaurant, ya know. Would they get it in time?” said Donatelli.
Chief Roddy says that the railroad company is typically transparent about how long the trains will be stopped. He knows it can be frustrating, however.
“Just be patient with anything and we’ll get through it,” finished Chief Roddy.