Continually getting stuck at a train crossing on Ormond Boulevard for 35 minutes or more has left Kaitlin Gagliano crying, stressed and demanding answers on why this is a constant problem.“I’ve called daycare crying [on River Road] because I can’t get to my child … because we’re stuck,” Gagliano said. “Our daycare is on the other side of the tracks. I’ve been 30 minutes waiting.”
Left in total frustration, she recently issued a callout on Facebook asking for help.
“Parked on Ormond Boulevard 35 minutes and counting,” she wrote. “How do we stop the trains from blocking a main roadway?! Second time in a week. As a mother that can’t get to her child in daycare, I am concerned and overwhelmed with anger!”
As the owner of a Crossfit gym on Storehouse Lane in Destrehan and resident of Montz, time is vitally important to Gagliano.
Yet, sometimes twice a day (4 p.m. and 6 p.m.), she’s at the crossing up to 45 minutes and “that’s not exaggerating,” she said. This can be disastrous when they offer a 4:15 p.m. workout class. “If I leave one minute late, I worry I’ll catch the wrong side of the train.”
Train blocking is hurting her business, too.
Gagliano said gym customers have told her, if they catch the train, they just turn around and go back home because they know the wait will be so long they won’t make the class.
“It’s hard on us,” she said.
CN Railroad spokesman Patrick Waldron responded, “CN works to minimize the instances of blocked crossings in the communities through which we operation. In Destrehan, Ormond Boulevard is located near a railroad yard and along a busy corridor where trains serve many rail customers. Trains pulling into and out of the nearby railroad yard and trains bringing cars to and from local plants and businesses can result in the crossing being occupied. We remained sensitive to motorists and pedestrians and work to keep delays to a minimum as we work to support local businesses and employers.”
Councilman Paul Hogan said he’s heard the same complaints for years about that very same boulevard, as well as train crossings at Sugarhouse and Paul Maillard roads.
“They think and they act like they have more power than God,” Hogan said of the railroads. He added, “All you can do is sit there and wait.”
Although parish code limits train blocking to 5 minutes, Hogan said he was advised nothing can hinder federal commerce.
State code restricts train blocking to 25 minutes, but the measure also can’t be enforced.
Hogan said no state has authority to impose restrictions on rail companies either so he’s going to push to have the parish code removed.
“We have a useless ordinance on the books so I’m pulling it off,” he said.
In the meantime in Destrehan, Gagliano said she is stressed out and frustrated with trying to adapt her life to the rail crossing.
“We’ve grown up with trains … I’ve dealt with them all my life,” she said. “I get it, but the problem is the delays seem to be getting worse in the last six to 12 months.”