It's one of those things you get pretty used to living in Superior. You know you're goingj to run into trains. Obviously we are a harbor town and trains are a very important piece of infrastructure for our community. Nobody is questioning that. Normally it is a slight inconvenience that lasts just a few minutes. This morning was definitely not a slight inconvenience as traffic was backed up for blocks and blocks and blocks as multiple trains cut off half of Superior.

I was coming into Superior on the Blatnik Bridge when I noticed there was a train crossing the Hammond Avenue tracks by Winter Street. It appeared to be a short train so to avoid the line of traffic I would just run over to Catlin Avenue and make my way down. There's one thing you learn quick in Superior and it's how to avoid or get around the trains. There's definitely a skill involved.

When I came down Catlin I noticed another train going the opposite direction east very slowly towards the other train. They were on double tracks, so no worry of a collision. I sat and waited about 5 minutes when the train did the most dreaded thing. It stopped, and then started slowly backing up. This is the train crossing of hell. They are jockying cars around or loading them and you never know when it's going to finally be moving on my way. By this point it was 10:59am and I turned around to go over the Highway 2 viaduct to get around the train.

I turned right onto Belknap and saw that the traffic was backed all the way up to East 5th street which is several blocks. Once again, knowing my way around I scooted through East End to make it around the train finally. When I finally crossed Belknap & Catlin I noticed how ridiculously far the vehicles were backed up on Belknap. They were almost all the way to the courthouse. The train had just cleared the tracks when I took the picture. You can see the stop lights still activated.

Ken Hayes
Ken Hayes

Now I was looking back at the original spot that I had waited from the opposite side of the tracks, and the crossing was still blocked. It was 11:18pm. So for roughly 20-30 minutes multiple intersections were obstructed by trains. That's a rough commute.

What is the law for trains blocking traffic in Wisconsin?

Here's the answer straight out of the Wisconsin Railroad Enforcement guide

t shall be unlawful to stop any railroad train, locomotive or car upon or across any highway or street crossing, outside of cities, or leave the same standing upon such crossing longer than 10 minutes, except in cases of accident; and any railroad company that shall violate this section shall be liable to a fine of not more than $500 or any officer of such company responsible for the violation shall be liable to imprisonment of not more than 15 days.

I think every single one of us have been stopped for at least 10 minutes at a crossing. Normally that's not too bad, but in today's case it went at least twice as long and locked up much of Superior. There is confusion on who to actually contact if you wish to file a complaint. You could start with talking to your local council person. You could also contact the Office of The Commissioner of Railroad in Madison.

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