BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – As the investigation into Tuesday night’s train fire in southwest Birmingham continues, people in the area say they’re frustrated as trains will often park, leaving some intersections blocked, for what seems like weeks at a time.
“It is very inconvenient,” says Victoria Gay, a community member frustrated by the train traffic. “It holds everyone up, as you can see everyone is turning around.”
Birmingham City Council President Wardine Alexander is the councilor over District 7. She says four intersections in her district are often blocked by trains, those intersections at 24th St SW, 31st St SW, 40th St SW and Brewer Drive. Alexander says the blockages cause commute headaches to detour around as people try to make it to work, school and appointments on time.
“We’ve seen it where it hasn’t been as frequent as it’s been before and now it’s becoming more frequent. We have more numbers of trains that are being stopped,” says Alexander. “Typically, you could just take a reroute and you could be able to get home within a few minutes but now it’s taking 2, 4, 5 minutes and that adds up.”
“It’s just a real safety hazard. We want especially the people, the police and everybody, to get around if somebody’s in trouble or anything,” says Danarius Gosha, frustrated by train traffic on the west side of the city. “It’s kind of hectic for everybody right now.”
“These blocked trains, they cause delays of people getting to work, taking their children to school, to the doctor,” says Alexander. “For myself, I have the same issues and sometimes have to go two miles out of the way just to get home because of this series of blocked trains.”
Birmingham City Council Transportation Chair Councilor Darrell O’Quinn says the intersections in west Birmingham are often blocked because it’s one of the only sections of double track in the state, so trains are able to pass each other. He says unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix to the problem.
“We’ve got an active proposal that’s under consideration for a portion of the east side and we hope that that’s a steppingstone towards additional projects in the future that will address these types of chronic issues here on the western portion of the city,” says O’Quinn.
The Birmingham City Council says you can report trains blocking a road to the Federal Railroad Administration at the link HERE. You can also reach Norfolk Southern’s 24-hour Police Department line at 1-800-946-4744 or call Norfolk Southern at 1-800-453-2530.