Oklahoma moves forward on bill to fine railroads blocking crossings

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — The Oklahoma House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved House Bill 2472, a Republican-backed measure to allow law enforcement to fine railroads up to $10,000 for blocking grade crossings for more than 10 minutes. The bill, which enjoys large bi-partisan support, passed by a vote of 92-5, and will now move forward to the state Senate for consideration.

The bill would give courts the authority to determine “the severity of the violation, whether there is a history of violations by the person or corporation and whether there were any good-faith efforts to minimize the severity of violation” in considering the amount of the fine to which the alleged violator would be subject.

Trains blocking crossings but moving continuously forward or backward would not be subject to a fine, nor would trains stopped for emergency situations, including derailment or mechanical failure. Provisions allowing an additional 10 minutes to trains blocking crossings are also included in the bill, and would extend that additional time to trains stopped for red signals. Also, trains stopped while awaiting the passage of another whose arrival is imminent would also be allowed the additional 10 minutes.

According to The Norman Transcript newspaper in Norman, Okla., the Oklahoma Railroad Association has voiced opposition to the bill. The group contends that since railroads are federally-regulated, the state has no authority to issue fines to railroads blocking crossings.

If the Republican-controlled Oklahoma Senate approves House Bill 2472, the bill would move to the desk of Gov. Kevin Stitt, also a Republican, for signature into law. The bill would then become effective Nov. 1, 2019.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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