Here’s Why You Were Stuck Traffic At Railroad Crossings in Downtown Kalamazoo This Week
Late Wednesday morning — around 11 a.m. — many cars were stuck at the railroad crossing. One driver said she sat in the traffic for 45 minutes to an hour.
According to a Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety dispatcher, the reason for the traffic pile-up was due to the train track arms being stuck in the down position.
As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, police said that Grand Elk Railroad was working on fixing the problem. Police weren't sure how long the repair would take.
Traffic is now flowing at the railroad crossing near East Michigan Avenue and Pitcher streets in downtown Kalamazoo.
But drivers should be aware that the arms may come down again as crews work to fix the issue, according to Grand Elk Railroad's VP of marketing and sales Shasta Duffey.
Duffey said that the railroad crossing arms being stuck in the down position is in relation to an accident that occurred Monday at a nearby railroad crossing at Kalamazoo Avenue.
"At around noon on Monday, a gentleman in a truck pulling a flatbed trailer, was trying to make a movement around cars to make a turn," Duffey said. "I'm not sure how it happened, but he hooked the arms that go to our gates that come down when a train crosses through. He hooked onto it and ripped and tore it all down."
The man contacted Grand Elk Railroad immediately, and crews immediately went to the location to "access the situation and get everything back in order," Duffey said.
Duffey said that due to crews currently working to fix the damage at the Kalamazoo Avenue from Monday, the railroad crossing arms also unexpectedly came down Wednesday at the East Michigan Avenue crossing.
"We have crews working to dig trenches to repair and fix the lines (near the Kalamazoo Avenue railroad crossing), and we have fail-safe," Duffey said. "If there’s any interruption in a line of communication, it [the railroad crossing gates] will assume that something’s coming, and the arms may come down."
The work should be completed today, but Duffey warns people that there may be some times where the arms come down today.
However, Duffey said that if the gates are down, she reminds people to not cross the intersection.
"It’s all to ensure peoples' safety — we would never want them to assume that just because they don’t see a train that a train isn’t coming," she said. "Don’t think, 'They're just doing maintenance and cross,' when the arms are down — even if you don’t see a train coming. It’s extremely dangerous."
If you're ever in a situation where a railroad crossing seems to not properly work, Duffey asks people to call the 1-800 number that's posted on the sign near the crossing to alert the company of the issue.