Gardendale neighbors tired of promises to fix blocked train crossing

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 2:55 PM CDT
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GARDENDALE, Ala. (WBRC) - Gardendale homeowners tell WBRC FOX6 News Friday they’ve grown tired of promises to fix a frequently-blocked train crossing that is the only way in or out of their neighborhood.

WBRC confirmed Friday a Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy who lives in the neighborhood wasn’t able to report to work and a child with special needs missed a Miracle League game because a CSX train blocked the crossing on McCormack Drive from around 1 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

“When that train stops, that’s it---you can’t get in, none of us can get in or out,” says homeowner Shirley Carr. “There’s special needs children--and if there’s an emergency, I don’t know what we’re gonna do.”

“I’ve seen people even today go between the cars because they’re waiting so long,” said Zachary Sanders, who was forced to take an online class in his car while parked along the side of the road, waiting to get into his neighborhood. “It’s dangerous, I wouldn’t do it, but I understand the train’s blocking for so many hours and we can’t tell how long it’s going to be.”

“It was the worst and longest,” says Carr of Thursday’s blockage---the worst she’s seen since we reported on the issue back in May.

The railroad warned homeowners who called that it could be 5 a.m. Friday before the crossing cleared---until our crew showed up and we contacted CSX, and the train finally cleared the crossing around 9:30 Thursday night.

Homeowners say the only solution is to build either a bridge here or another elevated crossing down the tracks that gives them access even if trains are stopped---but they’ve been pushing for that for years and see little progress so far.

“CSX has got to do something, they’ve got to be held accountable,” says Carr. “They’re not being held accountable, all they do is say “oh I’m so sorry---I apologize for the inconvenience” but this is ridiculous. They’ve got to be held accountable somehow some way.”

CSX released this statement to us:

“CSX apologizes for any disruption this incident may have caused to the residents of McCormack Drive. We work hard to minimize the impact of our operations on neighboring communities while we serve our customers. We will review our operations to limit these occurrences.”

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