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Blocked crossings

Emergency Number at rail crossingIowa Code 327G.32 prohibits a railroad from blocking a crossing for longer than 10 minutes, but also includes these exceptions.

  • When necessary to comply with signals affecting the safety of the movement of the trains.
  • When necessary to avoid striking an object or person on the track.
  • When the train is disabled.
  • When necessary to comply with governmental safety regulations, including but not limited to speed ordinances and speed regulations.

Citations for non compliance may be issued by local law enforcement authorities, but issuing these citations is problematic and seldom effective. The best resolution is to work with the railroad and come to some kind of accommodation. The Office of Rail Transportation can provide individuals or community representatives with information and the appropriate railroad contacts. The department is available to help coordinate and foster community/railroad relationships to resolve these problems. 

A 2006 report by the Federal Railroad Administration, "Impact of Blocked Highway/Rail Grade Crossings On Emergency Response Services" provides some insight into this difficult issue.