New bill would mean higher penalties for companies who block local roadways

Local News

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) – Harsher penalties may be on the way for railroad companies that block roads for any reason other than a moving train.

One example is the closure of Ashley Phosphate Road for hours this week.

State Representative Marvin Pendarvis introduced that bill in the State House.

It specifically mentions the obstruction of a highway by a railroad car, locomotive or other object.

If approved, railroad companies would face a $5,000 fine for each lane of the street, road or highway blocked.

The fine would go up to $10,000 per lane if it happens between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The current fine is betwen $5 and $20.  Currently enforceing the rules falls to local law enforcement. The new plan would shift enforcement to the Public Service Comission. 

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summer criticized the timing of the repairs on Ashley Phosphate Road in a video posted to Facebook on Thursday.

The video was posted with the caption: “We refused to be railroaded! Where’s the respect, Norfolk Southern Corp?”

“I couldn’t be more upset about Norfolk Southern’s attitude to the people of the greater Charleston area,” he said. “How about being a citizen of our community instead of someone who thinks they can run in on a rail and run over us?”

We reached out to Norfolk Southern and they sent us an email apologizing for the delays on Ashley Phosphate Road.

Other states have already increased their fines in recent years.  According to a spokesman at the Office of Regulatory Staff, often those penalties aren’t enforced when railroad companies file suite in Federal Court, where there are some regulations already.  

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