EASLEY — There are few things as frustrating as pulling up to a train crossing only to realize: Hey, wait a minute … that train’s not even moving …
And in Easley, it’s been happening a lot.
The blocked intersections — specifically Dennis Drive — create hassles and delays for drivers who have taken to social media to vent their frustrations.
“I don’t understand why the city keeps allowing this to happen,” wrote one angry resident. “It would be one thing if this was a once in a while occurrence — but this is happening all the time now.”
The problem is, the city doesn’t own the tracks — Norfolk Southern does.
A spokesperson with the railroad company said the delays were due to an influx at the train yard and while they were aware of the issue, and are “working on solutions,” the situation is unlikely to change any time soon.
Basically, when you have a train of 60 or so cars, there’s only so many places you can park them — and Easley has two tracks.
Over in Central, they’re having the same problem.
“Norfolk Southern Railroad spoke with Town officials today regarding the abandoned train and cars blocking intersections in town last week,” officials stated. “Norfolk assured us they are doing everything they can to address the issue within Pickens, Greenville and Spartanburg Counties. Due to an influx in the yard they are placing cars where they can in the counties and will work toward resolving the issue as they can.”
Officials also wanted to allay fears that the blocked intersection could prove dangerous if a fire broke out on the other side by assuring residents who expressed doubt the fire engines could fit through the under-pass.
“In the event of a fire emergency, our Volunteer Fire Department could reach you regardless of which side of the track you reside on,” they said.
In the meantime, Rep. Neal Collins took to his Facebook page urging residents to be patient.
“I have been in contact with Norfolk Southern. A Norfolk employee visited Easley this week, he wrote. “Good news: Norfolk is aware of Dennis Dr. being blocked routinely recently. They are working on solutions, including parking the trains before Easley on the south side. The reason trains are parking is good — business is so backed up it’s taking more time to load and unload all along the track.”
Collins said the solution unfortunately is more complex than just “avoid Easley.”
“A train has to park and fit where there are two tracks. ‘Fit’ means around 60 cars,” Collins wrote. “There are only so many places between Charlotte and Atlanta available. I’ve had a few complain that trains are sitting for days — in fact, it’s different trains. At times, the line is so backed up, a train will simply move into the parked spot as soon as it can.”
The last comment sparked a bit of controversy as residents then began snapping photos of the graffiti on the trains in an effort to prove Norfolk Southern wrong — that they’re the same trains.
It wasn’t long before the hashtag “#sametrain” began trending on community Facebook pages and Instagram accounts.
But it’s not just drivers who are annoyed, residents on the West end of Easley say when the trains park over by the Wilbur Street crossing (behind the Miracle Hill shopping plaza) it can completely cut them off.
“I don’t have a car and I walk up to the Dollar General for my groceries all the time,” said 41-year-old Tonya Littleton. “When there’s a train parked there, I’m stuck. I can’t walk all the way over to downtown — the train wasn’t moving, so I just ducked between the cars.”
It’s an incredibly dangerous thing to do.
Last Summer, an Atlanta man was killed while trying do the same thing Littleton was after his foot got stuck — and the train started moving.
In that situation, officials pleaded their case to the railroad company who agreed to stop parking trains at that particular intersection.
Problem is, they still have to park somewhere …