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Ohio blocked-crossing bill would levy fines starting at $5,000

By | November 1, 2021

Legislators seeks approach that would survive federal scrutiny

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Seal of the state of Ohio

Seal of the state of OhioCOLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio state legislator has introduced legislation that would fine railroads $5,000 or more for blocking grade crossings for more than 5 minutes “to the hindrance of traffic.”

The Butler County Journal-News reports state Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Township, Ohio) said House Bill 361 is designed “to get the railroads’ attention,” with fines of $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for subsequent offenses.

While blocked-crossing laws in other states have routinely been overturned because railroads are regulated at the federal level, Hall told the newspaper that he and co-sponsor Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park) tried to draft a bill that would not be blocked by federal law. It would require railroads to report each incident of a blocked crossing to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, with the fines for failing to do so.

Representatives of CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern declined comment on the legislation.

8 thoughts on “Ohio blocked-crossing bill would levy fines starting at $5,000

  1. I’m expecting GOP legislators everywhere to start introducing Texas-style copycat legislation empowering individuals to sue, so as to take any action out of potential state liability and Federal oversight. It might be tried with grade crossings.

  2. How do you “prove” > 5 min? Can the railroad fine the motorists, which the train will hit because they were blocking the crossing?

  3. Is it 5 mins moving or 5 mins standing ? These mile plus trains or combined trains can that long when there moving to get past a crossing

    1. I recently watched a “double train” doing street running on the La Grange, KY, webcam. Noting the long blockage, I replayed it and timed the blockage at any point on the main street at eight minutes. Seemed to take forever. The second half of the train was 105 autoracks. La Grange promotes the railroad as a feature of the city.

  4. I wonder how many under/overpasses and closed crossings this will lead to. Might not be the worst thing, depending on circumstances.

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