KENDALLVILLE — A “significant violation” caused a westbound freight train to stop and park in Kendallville Tuesday afternoon, with the train blocking all three railroad crossings for about three hours.
City officials weren’t told exactly what the violation was or why it caused such a lengthy blockage in town, obstructing north-south travel until about 3:15 p.m.
The train stopped in Kendallville after noon on Tuesday, its engine stopping about 100 yards west of the Main Street crossing. The train, comprised of dozens of freight cars, was long enough to stretch back east and block all three crossings including those at Riley Street and Park Avenue.
Kendallville City Engineer Scott Derby said he received a call from the Norfolk Southern track supervisor who informed him the train was stopped due to a “violation.”
“He said that there was a significant violation with the train that’s stopped there. He didn’t go into any detail. He was aware that all three crossings are blocked,” Derby said.
When asked when the train would be cleared and unblock the crossings, Derby said he was told “It could be a while.”
By about 2:45 p.m., Derby was informed the train would be moving shortly. It started to roll about a half hour later, with Main Street finally unblocked by 3:17 p.m.
No police, fire or emergency medical services were called to the tracks, indicating that there was no type of accident or other emergency. The stoppage likewise didn’t appear to be caused by any sort of mechanical issue, instead by some sort of administrative freeze.
Derby contacted East Noble School Corp.’s transportation department while the tracks were still blocked so that buses could make arrangements for the afternoon dismissal. The Kendallville Police Department dispatch has also been informed so emergency responders could adjust if needed.
Kendallville has fire stations on Drake Road and U.S. 6, so the city is still able to respond in an emergency even when all of the local railroad crossings are blocked. Police or other vehicles that need to get around the blockage have to use the overpasses like other motorists.
The rail lines through Kendallville are frequently busy, with multiple trains passing through the city every day. Most trains, however, do not stop or even slow through the city, with most barreling through town at a brisk clip.
The east-west lines in the city primarily serve freight trains, although passenger trains also use the rails.
Kendallville motorists had been detouring earlier this summer as railroad crews removed crossing and replaced rails through the city. Main Street was closed July 14 and remained closed about 3 1/2 weeks.
Norfolk Southern crews returned in early September and closed Riley Street and Park Avenue on Sept. 7 to do the same type of work at those crossings. The crossings were reopen by Sept. 25 after completion of those projects.