LANSING — State Reps. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township) and Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) brought forward residents’ concerns about blocked traffic at railroad crossings around Downriver. The two lawmakers sit on the House Commerce and Trade Committee, which heard a presentation from the Canadian National Railway Co. this week.
“I hear nearly every day from constituents who are affected by railroad crossings. This is a decades-long issue, and one that’s escalating from a nuisance to a hazard as the populations in Brownstown and Woodhaven increase,” Camilleri said. “Freight rail is very important to many businesses in my district, but the lack of grade separations or underpasses is halting economic development because of traffic concerns. We need to do more to address this situation.”
Wait times at railroad crossings can exceed 45 minutes, but efforts to find the necessary funds to build a grade separation have fallen short. Roughly $15 million has been secured, but the project requires another $15 million. The CN representative offered to look into the issue at Camilleri’s request, but he added that the problem may simply be a result of the railway’s normal operation.
“I can appreciate the economic benefit of rail service for our manufacturing industry, but when emergency and public safety vehicles are stopped by a train for nearly an hour, we have an urgent problem to solve,” Geiss said. “At the very least, first responders need to know when their response times will be affected by a stopped train so that they can plan alternate routes, because seconds and minutes count. As we search for more funding to build the necessary grade separation, I hope we can count on CN and the other train companies that operate through Downriver to work with us and the communities we represent to alleviate this situation.”