Officials upset that trains continue to block Birmingham intersections

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham and Jefferson County leaders are fed up with trains blocking intersections in the west side of the city.

It's been a problem that they say has gone on for years.

"I think it's awful. It needs to be stopped now. It's getting too regular," said resident Betty McRee.

Residents were forced to find alternate routes on Friday after a train broke down on the tracks for almost eight hours. It blocked intersections on 24th and 31st Streets Southwest.

"I have to go about seven or eight blocks out of the way," said McRee.

Officials said this happens way too often. Another incident took place back on Dec. 18.

"And we want the citizens to know that we are concerned. And I'm very sensitive to this issue, emergencies and a whole lot of things. We've got a school, two schools, well Lawson State," said Jefferson County Commissioner Sandra Little Brown.

"And I'm tired of it as an elected official. The citizens are tired of it," said Birmingham Councilman Jay Roberson.

Roberson said he and Brown are reaching out to the railroad as well as the federal government. They want answers, as well as a permanent fix.

"Long term maybe it's a conversation with ALDOT and others about transportation, county transportation, what we can do to give a better passageway for our citizens," said Roberson.

We asked Norfolk Southern, the train operator, why it broke down Friday and if there is anything being done to address this issue in the future.

"Unfortunately, the train's locomotive had a mechanical issue [similar to when a car breaks down.] But unlike a car, we can't move the train off the tracks to allow traffic to go through the crossing. Our mechanical employees at our Birmingham yard worked to make repairs as quickly as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience to motorists," a spokesperson said in a statement.

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