DADE CITY — Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco has taken CSX Transportation to task about the company’s trains stopping for hours and blocking roadways in Dade City, saying the actions show “wilful neglect.”
The sheriff, in a letter to CSX Chairman Michael J. Ward, said the crew on the latest train to block traffic told his deputies, “Dade City is going to have to make a hell of a lot of noise to stop us from doing this.”
“This shows contempt for the legitimate public safety concerns raised by the city,” Nocco wrote in a letter dated Tuesday. “The citizens of Dade City and Pasco County deserve better.”
CSX trains have blocked Dade City intersections for lengthy periods twice in a little over a month, backing up traffic and causing city officials to express concerns about the public safety implications if emergency vehicles were blocked from getting to someone in need of assistance.
The latest instance happened Tuesday morning when a train blocked streets from about 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. City Manager Billy Poe already had complained in a letter to CSX last month when a train blocked intersections for five hours on July 11.
CSX apologized for the July blockage and promised to give the city a warning if a similar situation happened again. The company said federal regulations limit a train crew’s hours of service to 12 hours, and when their time runs out a dispatcher tell them to stop the train.
CSX issued another apology and statement Tuesday, saying the company tries to plan for those shift changes to happen in areas where traffic won’t be disrupted, but “sometimes that is not possible due to network congestion or traffic delays.”
Nocco wrote that the CSX statement and apology show “an appalling lack of concern regarding this situation.”
“This problem could have been avoided if trains were stopped just north of the city,” he wrote. “For CSX to act as if this was an unavoidable problem when it could have been avoided with just a few minutes of forethought or action demonstrates wilful neglect of CSX’s responsibilities.”
The entire letter is on the Pasco Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, and Nocco also included a link where Dade City residents could voice their concerns to CSX.