Residents fed up with trains blocking streets in New Caney

NEW CANEY, Texas (KTRK) -- Those calling a New Caney-area neighborhood home said the only two roads in and out are regularly blocked by trains.

"You're kinda stuck," said resident Rebecca Davis.

Those trying to get to work or school early in the morning told ABC13 they have to wait 30 to 45 minutes for the rail cars to clear the two roads in and out of the Oakley Addition.

Trina Cox said she once sat for an hour and a half.

"Somebody has gotta do something for us. This is too dangerous," Cox said.

She said if the roads are blocked, police, fire and EMS can't get in or out either.

"They could die," said resident Dirk Webb. "If somebody gets hurt in here, there's gonna be a big lawsuit."

Residents have complained to anyone who will listen. They think a rock quarry, opened recently just north of the neighborhood, has something to do with it.

Martin Marietta, which operates the facility, said its deliveries of limestone are entirely dependent upon Union Pacific and its rail cars.

"You get out here in a rural county where nobody listens to what we're saying. They just do whatever they want," said Webb.

County commissioner Jim Clark is trying to get something done about the issue. He says the county's hands are tied as it has little jurisdiction over how Union Pacific operates.

A Union Pacific spokesperson said the trains must stop in front of the neighborhood because of a manual switch which the conductor on board must activate once they arrive. That should take a matter of minutes though, according to U.P. spokesperson Jeff Degraff, not nearly as long as folks claim.

He said Union Pacific is addressing the issue by installing a switch in the next month that can be controlled remotely, eliminating the need for trains to stop before switching tracks to head to the quarry.

As to the issue of public safety, Union Pacific said it works closely with emergency responders. If a train is blocking neighborhood access, Degraff said it can be quickly moved for police, fire or EMS access.

Residents of Oakley Addition wonder just how quickly that can really be done.

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