DADE CITY — A CSX Transportation train blocked streets on the east side of Dade City for two hours Tuesday morning, about five weeks after city officials complained when a train blocked city intersections for five hours on July 11.
The train blocked streets from about 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
“There went two engines past Tuskegee [Street that blocked] MLK, River Road, the entire business center and Pioneer Museum Road,” said City Manager Billy Poe. “It was the same thing. The crew ran out of time. It’s frustrating.”
A CSX train blocked intersections in the same area for five hours on July 11. CSX told city officials that train conductors ran out of time on their work schedule; the conductors can only work 12 hours in a day because of federal guidelines. When they reached their limit, dispatchers told them to stop the train.
The city sent a letter of complaint to CSX last month, complaining that the July 11 stoppage could have hampered safety personnel from responding to calls in a timely manner.
“This thoughtless action on the part of your crew created a tremendous strain on our ability to provide essential public safety services,” Poe wrote in the letter. “The blocking of this neighborhood, without so much as a phone call, is unconscionable.”
The railroad sent out representatives who apologized for the inconvenience and told city officials that they would work on better communication. CSX officials said they would give the city warning if a similar situation happened again.
“This is one heck of an apology isn’t it?” Poe said Tuesday. “They didn’t call us like they said they would.”
Poe said he doesn’t understand why the train cannot stop before entering or after leaving the city where the blockage would have minimal impact. Poe said CSX is not concerned because their customers are not the everyday citizens who are being inconvenienced.
He said city officials have contacted Sen. Marco Rubio’s office and will contact U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, who had helped the city during the last incident. They plan to contact other officials as well.
CSX issued this statement Tuesday afternoon:
“We apologize for the inconvenience to area motorists caused by a train blocking multiple crossings in Dade City. Train crews are subject to federal regulations limiting their hours of service. CSX makes every effort to plan accordingly so that crews can change shifts on time and in areas that do not disrupt traffic. Sometimes that is not possible due to network congestion or traffic delays, and shifts expire while trains are en route. We are conducting a full analysis to determine what operational adjustments can be made going forward.”