How to report trains blocking crossings in Birmingham

A bad train
A train blocking the 41st Street Railroad Crossing in Birmingham. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

How many times have you came across a railroad crossing in Birmingham, only to find a stopped train blocking your path? Since mid-2021, trains blocking railroad crossings for multiple hours has been a serious issue in Central Alabama.

Keep reading to see how you can report a blocking train + tips on how to avoid a blocked railroad crossing.

Why are trains blocking railroad crossings?

A bad train
A troublesome locomotive blocking a crossing in Birmingham. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

There are a number of reasons why you might come across a train blocking the crossing, including federal regulations or congestion further up the tracks. However, blocking trains have recently become a serious problem in Central Alabama, with some trains blocking crossings for up to multiple days. Some Central Alabama residents—particularly in Shelby County and Trussville—have even been trapped in their neighborhoods by the stopped locomotives.

Earlier this year, Alabama Representative Danny Garrett filed HB 122, a bill prohibiting trains from blocking railroad crossings continuously for two or more hours. The bill passed the Alabama House of Representatives on March 1, but has since stalled.

Here’s how YOU can report blocking trains

A bad train
A train in Birmingham. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Launched in 2019, the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Blocked Crossing Incident Reporter website aims to collect information about blocked railroad crossings from the public. Using that information, the FRA will produce an annual report on blocked crossings which can be used by railroad companies to identify possible solutions.

Here’s how it works:

In addition to the Blocked Crossing Incident Reporter, people are encouraged to call railroad companies to report blocking trains:

How to avoid blocked crossings in Birmingham

A bad train
A train crossing a 41st Street railroad crossing in Birmingham. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

With major railway lines literally dividing downtown, dealing with trains is something you’ll have to get used to in Birmingham. Luckily, there are several viaducts, underpasses and highways in Birmingham that can help you traverse the city, including:

The 21st Street Viaduct (also known as the Rainbow Viaduct) was once a way to cross the railroad, but the historic bridge has been closed to motorists since January 2022 due to safety concerns.

Have you seen railroad crossings blocked hours? Tag us on social media at @bhamnow to let us know.

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Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer with Bham Now | Originally from Tennessee, Nathan moved to The Magic City after graduating from Birmingham-Southern College. Nathan is passionate about recognizing Birmingham's history and is thrilled to learn more about the big things planned for The Magic City's future.

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