WICHITA, Kan. (AP) BNSF Railway is challenging a Kansas law that limits how long trains can block intersections.
The Kansas Court of Appeals heard arguments Thursday in the case involving a lengthy blockage of two Chase County railroad crossings in December 2016, the Wichita Eagle reported. The Texas-based railway companys court challenge could have ramifications for railroad crossings throughout Kansas.
The law in question says railroads can only block a crossing for 10 minutes.
The Chase County Sheriffs Office cited BNSF, alleging the company parked a train on a siding for four hours and blocked the only crossings that provide access to several farms.
BNSF denies the length of the blockage and argues that the state doesnt have a right to regulate how long a train can block a crossing.
That power is vested solely in the federal government, said Jody Sanders, the companys attorney.
Sanders said that the federal government had pre-empted state control over railroads because theyre engaged in interstate commerce and cant be expected to comply with a patchwork of regulations across the country.
But State Solicitor General Kristafer Ailslieger said the federal government doesnt regulate how long trains can block crossings. Without state law, companies could block crossings without any time limit or remedy, Ailslieger said.
A railroad could dispose of a dilapidated locomotive in the middle of Main Street, he said.
The state also argued that BNSFs four-hour-long blockage in 2016 created a public safety issue.
Emergency vehicles could not get through and the people on the other side could not get out, he said.
The court expects to issue a ruling on the case in the next few months.
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