Local mom says stopped trains separate her from her kids and block her driveway

ALABASTER, Ala. (WIAT) — We’ve heard a lot of concern about trains blocking roads in Shelby County in recent memory months, but Wendy Foster’s situation stands out. Trains have been blocking her driveway.

Alabaster Wendy Foster has a set of railroad tracks running across her driveway.

Foster says recently trains are stopped and block those tracks for several hours sometimes separating her from her children returning from school.

WIAT 42 News obtained a 22 minute video from August 13 showing a stopped train blocking the tracks across her driveway. Foster says it had been there for four hours at that point.

“It’s actually blocking our driveway. It’s a one way in, one way out. We have no other way to cross and it’s, it’s become a big safety issue,” Foster. “This is a crazy situation. It’s not safe for my kids. I have an 11 month old that has a history of seizures. And he if was to have a seizure there would be no other way in. No out.”

“We’ve had to crawl over the tracks several times to get to our home so that’s my main concern,” said Foster.

“My nightmare has been trying to get them over the tracks and then it start moving and we’re all just crushed. And I mean I know they tell us not to do it, but we have no other choice when they’re here four hours, five hours at a time. And it’s just, it’s just what we have to do,” she continued.

Alabaster city leaders are working to try to negotiate some sort of solution with the railroad companies according to Mayor Marty Handlon.

City leaders were originally set to meet with representatives from a railroad conglomerate last week, but that meeting was postponed at the railroads’ request according to Handlon. She’s hoping the different parties can find some common ground when they do finally sit down which is supposed to happen next week.

Because if they can’t, as Handlon points out, local municipalities are extremely limited in their options for controlling what railroads do through their jurisdictions because the companies are protected by federal interstate commerce laws.

“It is a federal issue and I think the one thing that continues to disturb us most is that most of those stopped trains are for labor issues where they have run out of hours and they have to stop a train and wait for another crew to come from a nearby city to replace that crew. And that’s what is just unacceptable in our minds. It’s not a broken down train or a mechanical problem. It is labor. So pick a place where you can change your labor out without causing such concerns for public safety,” said Handlon.

Handlon says she recognizes the important role that railroads play, she just hopes that her city and the railway companies can work together to find a solution. One idea might be to add side rails at major intersections that would allow stopped trains to move off the main tracks and avoid blocking roads.

“They are obviously a profitable industry and when you’re profitable in my mind you have to invest in the infrastructure to remain profitable without affecting the public safety and the lives of those people in, in cities,” said Handlon.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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