Train blocks intersection in Lynn for 12 hours

LYNN    -  A Norfolk Southern railroad train, with a length spanning at least a quarter to half-mile, stopped on the railroad tracks in Lynn for at least 12 hours last week, creating a major hindrance.
The train was first seen around 6 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, but was not moved until 7 p.m. that evening,  causing a major disruption that had industrial leaders and town officials infuriated.
“It has hindered several businesses that are on the opposite side of the track,” stressed Lynn Police Chief Bryan Kirkpatrick. “They are unable to get deliveries in today.”
The train, with its engine facing north,

blocked the railroad crossing on County Road 356, a key route that must be taken by large trucks.  County Road 356 also provides an inlet for first responders to reach all businesses on the west side of the tracks, town officials said.
The train blocked access to Pace Industries landfill, as well as Millport Lumber and Winston Machinery, Kirkpatrick said.
“Pace Industries had to go several miles out of their way to perform their functions,” he cited. “If they had a buyer, it would have been difficult to get a buyer truck in, if they could get one in.”
Due to the train blocking County Road 356, businesses on the west side had to send large trucks on the old Posey Road, which had become muddy due to the recent ice and snow, town officials said.
In fact, the poor condition of Posey Road caused several large trucks to become stuck while they were trying to access Highway 13, that dirt road being the only access road from the west side to the highway, officials added.
“Several had to be pushed up the hill using a bulldozer,” Kirkpatrick pointed out. “It’s not designed for the big trucks.
“It is almost impassable,” Kirkpatrick said. “The county had to come over and do some work on it.  It is still hard to get trucks in and out over there.”
The only other route trucks could use to access the Highway 13, was only wide enough for cars, according to Kirkpatrick.
Winston County Commissioner for District 2 David Cummings said he was contacted by several businesses about the issue.
“The roads were very wet,” said Cummings. “A lot of the back-up routes for these businesses were unpassable due to the thawing  road conditions.  We had to haul rock and put on the road to make it passable.”  
The main blockage by the train occurred at the crossing of County Road 356 onto County Road 59, which is normally used by large trucks to access the highway, town officials noted.
“We called Norfolk Southern several times. We’ve been told they (a railroad crew) left at 7 a.m. this morning,  a crew has left at 9 a.m. on the way. Personally,  I was told (a crew) would be here by 2 o clock,” Kirkpatrick said Tuesday. “We’ve been told 100 different stories.”
Michael Bass, vicepresident of Pace Industries,  noted the railroad crossing on County Road 356 was his company’s life’s blood.
“We have a bunch of companies that need to come here and can’t. We’re shut down,” Bass pointed out, adding the company lost thousands of dollars in revenue while trucks could not access their landfill.
“If we have a fire, it’s going to take (the fire department) 20 minutes to get to us,” Bass added. “An ambulance can’t make it down this road.   The fire pumper is not getting down this road.  We’ve called every number we can, and we always get the runaround.
“It’s caused a nuisance with the mobile home toters,” Bass continued. “We’ve had five or six mobile home toters have to turn around. We have lost customers today.
“I’ve had to call the county out with their motor grader just to try to get our trucks up and down this one-lane road,” Bass emphasized.
Wayne Bass, owner of Pace Industries, spoke out strongly about the train blocking access to his business.  Bass stressed that the train could have moved down the track only 400 feet when it stopped, in order to clear the crossing on County Road 356.
“This is not just a residential crossing,” Bass pointed out. “This is an industrial crossing, and this landfill is part of the infrastructure for Marion and Winston counties.
“This is absolutely uncalled for,” Bass emphasized.
Blockage hinders first responders

Railroad crossing blockages also significantly affect emergency response situations, noted Lynn Fire Captain Cody Wakefield, who stressed this is a recurring problem.
“For years, the Town of Lynn and the businesses within it have faced frequent disruptions due to blocked railroad crossings, particularly at the intersection of County Road 356 and County Road 59,” Wakefield stressed.
“It is our understanding that the train should uncouple cars during prolonged stops,” he added. “However, this hasn’t been happening.
“The Town of Lynn is reaching out to media outlets to address this issue, as the current blockage poses a potential delay of vital minutes for emergency response units,” Wakefield further emphasized.
Referring to the most recent crossing blockage, Wakefield emphasized, “There is  concern that in case of an emergency, the response could be delayed by crucial minutes. Public safety units from Lynn have to detour around the train, adding 10 to 15 minutes to the emergency response time.”

Town officials
 speak out

Lynn Water cCerk Kris Gray noted Lynn Town Hall had been receiving calls all day while the train was stopped.
“They (blocked businesses) are in need of some answers, some help of some kind. They are sitting there helpless,” Gray said. “Coming off being iced in, they are already behind on their deliveries and receiving deliveries. It’s just a bad time.”
Town Clerk Marcia Manasco added the blockage also affected the city sanitation trucks being able to cross over to the four affected businesses.
“We got the feeling that Norfolk Southern just didn’t care,” Manasco emphasized. “I am disappointed they are not making more of an effort to open that railroad (crossing) up.
“We are very upset that Norfolk Southern has not taken action quicker than they have,” Manasco added.
Norfolk Southern cites mechanical issue

Heather Garcia, senior communications manager for Norfolk Southern, issued a statement to the Alabamian explaining the situation.
“We make every effort to avoid inconveniencing communities with a stopped train,” Garcia began.
“This train was stopped for a mechanical issue that needed to be addressed before it could proceed,” Garcia pointed out.  “Our team worked to try to find a location where the train could await service without blocking traffic in the central residential part of town,” she added.
“We have since been in touch with the city clerk and have discussed where, if

something like this were to happen again in the future, a train could pull to in order to minimize disruption for the community,” Garcia pointed out.
“Our goal is always to keep trains running safely, and we appreciate the community’s patience and understanding during this unplanned event.”

 Past train blockages in Lynn

Other times in the past that a Norfolk Southern train has stopped on the tracks at Lynn included blocking access to County Road 1 from Main Street. County Road 1 is a major route to get large trucks to and from market, town officials explained.
“I’ve had mobile homes lined up down Highway 5 before,” Kirkpatrick pointed out. “We’ve had to shut down Highway 5 and back them back out into the road because the railroad just shut it down.”
A stopped train has also blocked the crossing at Heck Street for several hours, the chief added.





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