GLADEWATER, Texas — From sunrise to sunset on Monday. A parked Union Pacific train was blocking the railroad crossing on Gregory Lane, known as S. Rodeo Street, and Commerce Avenue in Gladewater.
"It's been a nightmare," Gladewater resident Robert Green said. "They constantly block the crossing. Sometimes it may only be blocked for a couple of hours, but sometimes it may be blocked for days."
Green is the chairman of the deacon board at Saint James Baptist Church which is located directly next to the crossing. He has attended the church for at least 20 years and says the train has always been an issue.
"Two Sundays ago they blocked this crossing and they blocked a second crossing, which eliminated anybody from getting in or out," Green said. That doesn’t happen as often but blocking this crossing is almost a daily nuisance."
Gladewater City Manager Ricky Tow says the city was told by Union Pacific that the engineers originally operating the train needed to be relieved due to hours worked. This caused the train to be stalled until another team arrived.
Monday evening, a CBS19 viewer emailed these photos of a train parked at the crossing from 7 a.m. until after midnight.
“The city is aware of it and the city council have tried to intervene on the community’s behalf," Green said. "They’ve contacted a representative from the railroad. They came out and they’re aware of the problem. They submitted a letter from the city council to the Union Pacific Railroad concerning the issue and the problem of the crossing."
Green along with other residents say despite conversations between the city and Union Pacific. The trains have continued to block the railroad crossings, leading to a number of issues for the people living in the nearby community.
"Elections are held at Saint James Church and at our last election. There were people who'd taken off from lunch that came to vote in the election and they weren't able to vote," Green said. "A lot of them didn't know about driving way around and coming up the back way, so people were hindered from voting as well.”
Green says there are only three alternate routes drivers can use to enter and exit the Red Rock community in the case the Gregory Lane crossing is blocked. The shortest of those three routes is about a five to six mile drive and easily adds an extra 15 to 20 minutes onto the commute.
“Not only does it hinder us on Sundays from coming to worship service, but it also hinders the emergency services such as ambulances or the fire department if there was an accident down here or a house caught on fire," Green said.
Green says he could recall one incident where the blocked crossing did make the difference between life or death.
"They were having a revival and a preacher at the revival had a heart attack and the train was blocking it," Green said. "By the time they got around and got him transported to the hospital, he'd died."
Aware of the nuisance to its residents, city leaders have attempted to put more pressure on Union Pacific to take action to eliminate the issue. However, Green says it seems their outcries are not being taken seriously.
"The railroad has told that they've told the conductors and the engineers by law, if they block the crossing for more than ten minutes, they need to separate the trains and they're just not doing it," Green said.
Green along with the city is encouraging residents concerned about the continuous issue to call Union Pacific at 888-877-7267 and use the reference number 794662S.