State Fines Union Pacific $2,500 for Blocking West Memphis Rail Crossings

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Two trains that blocked five separate street crossings in West Memphis for two hours will cost the Union Pacific Railroad $2,500 in fines.

The state Highway Commission agreed yesterday to fine the railroad $500 for each of its five violations.

The traffic blockage occured October 21.  In March, city officials argued before the Highway Commission that the railroad should be fined, in the hope that fines might deter the company from allowing it to happen again.

West Memphis Mayor Bill Johnson says he is concerned that the blocked crossings can hinder emergency services.

Railroad officials have said they adopted a new policy to avoid blocking crossings.  The new policy requires dispatchers to delay the start of trains out of the nearby Marion facility if a train is stopped on the east-west tracks in West Memphis.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)