Off track? Train’s pit stops puzzle residents

March 28, 2007 at 3:31 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Off track? Train’s pit stops puzzle residents
Photo by Shonna Riggs
St. Charles Parish Councilman Richard Duhe, health club manager Paul Centanni, and other residents of Destrehan want the Canadian National Railway Company to limit the number of times their trains block traffic by stopping between Ormond Boulevard and Murray Drive.

And they want the limits in place before summer. Sometimes, it is alleged, train engineers leave the locomotive to get coffee or snacks from a convenience store. They even, it is said, take naps.

“I’ve been an eyewitness to people leaving their cars on one side of the train tracks while they crawl under the boxcars to get to the other side,” said Duhe.

“Then after about 30 minutes, I’ve seen them crawling back under the boxcars to get back to their vehicles.”

Centanni agrees. “I’ve seen children under the train and it’s very dangerous,” he said.

Centanni keeps a daily log of the train’s stops, because he’s concerned about the welfare of his clients.

“One night a gentleman fell and hit his head on the floor after working out and was knocked unconscious,” he said.

“We were so worried that the ambulance wouldn’t make it on time because of the train being parked in this spot for so long.”

“Luckily, the train had already passed and we were able to get the client to the hospital without delay.”

Duhe said he has seen train engineers parking on the tracks, getting out of the lead railway car, and going into the local mini-mart food store to get something to eat and drink.

“I was sitting in my vehicle near the railway crossing on Ormond Boulevard and I was waiting on the train to pass by-but it wasn’t moving,” he said.

“After several minutes, I looked around and noticed a guy coming out of the convenience store with a softdrink in his hand. He then got back on the train, I was speechless,” Duhe said.

Centanni says he caught one of the train’s engineers asleep in the locomotive.

“I couldn’t believe it, I was on my way home from the health club and the train was parked right by the fire station on Ormond - how I wish I had a camera to capture this image- there were two of them, one these guys was just sitting in the lead car sleeping and the other was coming out of the store, I just continued to sit in my car and blow the horn at the guy,” Centanni continued.

With summer activities already planned for children at the Hill Heights Health Center, Duhe wants the problems with the railroad company cleared up as quickly as possible.

“We’ve got to figure out a solution - I asked Bobby Raymond, the parish attorney, to speak to the sheriff’s department and ask if train engineers can be cited for making these types of stops,” Duhe said.

On March 19, at a St. Charles Parish Council meeting, Rich Miller, operating superintendent for Canadian National Railway company said delays on the railway tracks and other complaints should be reported to the company directly.

“I can’t address all of these complaints, but I will tell you that I will check into the situation to see what’s going on-in the meantime, there is 1-800 phone number on the back of the railroad crossing sign and anyone who has a complaint can call and report it as soon as possible,” Miller continued.

Miller noted that federal guidelines require train engineers to rest after 12 hours of driving.

“The law says engineers need to rest, however, we must look for better ways for them to do this,” he said.

View other articles written Shonna Riggs

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