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Trott wants answers after nine-hour delay at Plymouth rail crossing

freight train
Dave Parker
creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
A CSX freight train passes through Plymouth. This week, a CSX-owned train blocked one of the city's crossings for nine hours.

Lengthy delays at railroad crossings have been plaguing the city of Plymouth -- including one on Monday, when a CSX-owned freight train held up traffic for nine hours.

During the last couple of weeks, residents, school buses and emergency responders have been forced to wait or seek alternate routes to avoid frequent blockages at the city's seven rail crossings.  

City manager Paul Sincock says when an emergency fire call came in on Monday, responders from Plymouth's primary fire station had to take an "extended" contingency route around the city to get to the scene.  

"Fortunately, it turned out to be a false alarm, but that certainly gives you the gravity of the situation. This is a significant issue for us," Sincock says.

In a letter to CSX Wednesday, Michigan Congressman Dave Trott, R-11th district, called for a "swift resolution" for what he says is an "untenable" situation.

Citizens of Plymouth have been stuck at crossings with infants in their cars, local schools are now excusing resulting tardiness for students and staff, and emergency crews have even had to take the extraordinary step of coming up with contingency plans in case there's a fire or catastrophe during a railroad blockage. What was once a disturbance has now become a significant public safety issue.

On Wednesday afternoon, the company apologized via a statement from Rob Doolittle, assistant vice president for media and communications at CSX:

CSX apologizes to the residents of Plymouth for the impacts caused by trains that have blocked crossings in the city. We understand the frustration of local residents and drivers and we are taking this matter very seriously. We are reviewing our options to reduce the impact of our operations, and CSX appreciates the community's patience as we work through this issue and strive to be better neighbors to the residents of Plymouth.

Rebecca Kruth is the host of All Things Considered at Michigan Public. She also co-hosts Michigan Public's weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.