SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Suffolk officials are releasing resources to help people report issues with trains passing through the area.
The city said in a news release Thursday that many residents have “expressed frustration about traffic issues caused by trains blocking a railroad crossing.”
While many call local law enforcement in hopes they’ll solve the blockage, oversight and enforcement of laws is actually done by the Federal Railroad Administration and the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
The FRA and SCC have systems residents must use to report the issues, and Suffolk wants to make sure people know how to access them.
Suffolk’s news release comes about three weeks after 10 On Your Side reported about ongoing issues with trains blocking roads — and sometimes whole neighborhoods — in Chesapeake and Suffolk.
Trains blocking roads isn’t uncommon — and therefore, the Federal Railroad Administration created a portal for people to report issues in December 2019. It’s illegal for trains to block an intersection at a full stop for more than five minutes at a time except in emergencies.
The issue is that many people in Hampton Roads aren’t using the reporting portal, 10 On Your Side found.
As trains get longer and business at the nearby Port of Virginia increases, crossings are being blocked more often. Trains need to stop so they can perform switching operations at a nearby railroad marshalling yard and change crews.
It causes a headache for some who live in Hampton Roads.
To report an issue, first, there should be a blue ENS sign which includes a toll-free number to call at all grade crossings.
Another way to report the issue is to report the blockage on the FRA’s Blocked Crossing Incident Reporter.
People can also fill out a complaint on the SCC website https://scc.virginia.gov/pages/Railroad-Regulation, or by calling 804-371-9980.
“Reporting blocked railroad crossings is an important part of resolving this ongoing issue. Regulatory agencies rely on accurate accounts of these incidents in order to make changes and implement long-term solutions,” the City of Suffolk said in Thursday’s news release.
“The City of Suffolk has no control whatsoever, as the FRA does not give localities the ability to regulate the length of time a moving train can block a roadway crossing,” the city said.
Suffolk is located in Region 2 of the FRA, and that phone number is 800-724-5992 if residents want to file a complaint with the FRA.
“We encourage you to use your voice and notify the appropriate agencies when there’s a blocked crossing in Suffolk, or should you have a concern about the length of a train. Thank you for doing your part to keep our community’s roadways safe for all travelers!” the city said.