HUMPHREY, Ark. — Trains that keep stopping in their tracks and blocking the only crossings in Humphrey, have residents frustrated and concerned for safety.
The small eastern Arkansas town is divided by railroad tracks. There are two crossings just yards from each other, but residents say when a train stops it usually blocks both crossings.
On Friday, Michael Hodges says a train sat on the tracks for nearly 6 hours, and wasn’t moved until early Saturday morning. He calls that dangerous since the crossing is the main way to get to the other side of town.
“It’s very unfair,” said Hodges, who runs an auto body shop near the crossing. “It shouldn’t have been blocked for 6 hours.”
Hodges says most trains speed by without incident, but he claims some days trains keep stopping without an explanation.
“Across the railroad tracks is half the town and if someone needed an ambulance, I don’t know what they’d do, they might die,” he added.
KARK 4 reached out to Union Pacific. In a statement the railroad explained Friday’s stop as, “The blocked crossings were caused by congestion in a nearby rail yard. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Drivers like Sonia Robinson say they sat in traffic for more than an hour Friday night, before learning the train wasn’t going to be moved right away. Robinson says she called Union Pacific and was told it would take hours to move the train.
“It’s really not a priority to them, I don’t think that small towns are,” Robinson said.
While she waits for answers, Robinson thinks the solution is simple; stop the trains before they block the crossing.
“What would it hurt for them to stop just short of one crossing?”
There is a gravel road miles always drivers can take, but Hodges says that takes a half hour extra as opposed to a couple minutes crossing the tracks. Even though the tracks were built before the town Hodges wishes the railroad would consider what’s at stake.
“They need to come down here and live on the other side of the tracks,” he said. “Let them try to get home after work, have kids waiting on them and they can’t get across the tracks.”
By Susan El Khoury for kark.com