Fifth Ward families want railroad safety improvements near McReynolds MS

Lileana Pearson Image
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Stalled trains in Houston's east side causing major safety concerns
Trains on Houston's east side are causing concerns, as some will sit on crossing for hours, cutting children off from school, adults from work, and entire communities from other parts of the city.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- ABC13 has reported on stalled trains on Houston's east side for years. Trains will sit on road crossings for hours, cutting children off from schools, adults off from work, and entire communities from Houston. When trains stop for hours, people crawl over them and under them.

"Don't make me lose a son or daughter before you build a bridge, man," resident Milford McGrudy, who lives next to the Market and Zindler intersection, said.

Trains leaving the Eaglewood rail yard on Houston's east side can take half an hour to pass - that's if they're moving.

"My kids, I live over in Fifth Ward; they take a bike. They have to go underneath this train with the bike, climb over just to get to school every day, and it has to stop," Savant Moore, who is an HISD trustee, east side resident, and his kids regularly are cut off from school by stopped trains, said.

When trains stall, they can sit for hours at a time. This leaves children unable to get to McReynolds Middle School just yards away. Adults can't make it to the post office on the other side of the tracks, not unless they roll the dice and decide to wait for hours or crawl through.

"It's a problem," home nurse Zahid Malik said.

On his way to make a home visit, Malik was stopped less than a mile from his patient's home because of a stalled train. His patient relies on medication and care that needs to be delivered on a schedule, or it can be dangerous.

"Their medication, some are insulin, some are wound care, so if you don't see them in time, it's a problem for them," Malik said.

In a round-table conversation with community leaders and Union Pacific on Tuesday, the rail company said they've made changes to account for school pick-up and drop-off and are marking critical intersections so trains block them less often. However, they also said that the nearby Eaglewood rail yard is the busiest in the state and a driver of the economy, so there's no way to stop the problem completely.

Commissioner Adrian Garcia said he's also working to obtain a grant to help cover the cost of a multimillion-dollar overpass.

Possibilities and concessions that residents say feel as slow-moving as the locomotives causing the problems.

"When the train comes on this track, I don't know why, but it sits here all day long," McGrudy said.

For more news updates, follow Lileana Pearson on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.