Webster residents say they’re trapped by stopped trains in their neighborhood

Investigations

WEBSTER, Fla. (WFLA) — Families in Webster, Florida tell 8 On Your Side that CSX trains frequently come to a complete stop at a railroad crossing at the only way in and our of their community.

“It stopped this morning actually,” Sandra Smith said. “I couldn’t get my daughter to school.”

The railroad crossing is on Gresham Road off 301 in a rural part of Hernando County. When it’s blocked, the small community to the east is essentially trapped.

Neighbors say this is a recurring problem and they’re missing work, school and doctor appointments.

“I was very annoyed, very angry,” Rebecca Elmquist said. “Because my mother needed to get the ultra sound.”

Annie De Maio, 84, lives in the problematic cul-de-sac.

“I don’t go anywhere except to the doctors and the supermarket,” she said. “When I need to get out, I need to get out!”

The group is asking 8 On Your Side Investigates to intervene.

“Since we’ve been calling and emailing CSX and it’s fallen on deaf ears, we figured we would call News Channel 8 to try to get something resolved,” Smith said.

A spokeswoman for CSX tells 8 On Your Side trains stop for a variety of reasons including, track maintenance, mechanical issues and crew changes.

Here is the full statement from CSX:

CSX strives to be a good neighbor in communities where we operate and our goal is to keep freight moving. However, there are times when mechanical and operational issues can result in blocked crossings, as well as when trains also may stop for mandatory safety inspections or federally-regulated crew changes. This crossing is located in a railroad siding where trains typically pull over so that another train can safely pass. Trains lengths vary and trains generally occupy the entire span of railroad sidings. We will review our operations in the area to determine if any improvements can be made. We work to serve our customers and communities as safely and efficiently as possible and our operations team is committed to minimizing occurrences that impact drivers or normal traffic flow.”

Neighbors said the train was left unattended for hours during a shift change Dec. 16.

“If they know they need a crew change, why don’t they have the other crew standing by?” Robert Freist questioned.

Moving forward, neighbors will be documenting each instance the crossing is blocked.

8 On Your Side will continue to follow this story.

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