OKLAHOMA CITY – Starting July 1, railroad companies will face consequences if a train stops at a crossing for more than ten minutes.
Thursday, the Corporation Commission voted on the rules that will be used to implement the new law.
Just like drivers get to defend themselves in traffic court, railroad companies will get a chance to explain why a train sometimes block crossings for more than ten minutes.
The rules voted on by the Corporation Commission lay out how railroad companies address complaints.
“The commissioners today approved a motion to move forward with the rulemaking process, pending some changes in some language with the proposed rules,” Corporation Commission Spokesman Matt Skinner said. “Assuming the changes meet with their approval, these proposed rules will go to the governor for his approval.”
The new law is designed to prevent trains from blocking crossings for an unreasonable amount of time.
Railroad companies now face a $1,000 fine every time they block a crossing for more than ten minutes.
If they want to dispute that citation they now have to go before the Corporation Commission.
While approving the emergency rules commissioners did express some concerns about the financial impact of implementing the new rules and law.
Despite the concerns, commissioners went ahead and approved the rules but gave themselves a way to change the rules later on down the road.
“I`m told by council that it would be proper for us to move forward and advance the emergency rules today,” Corporation Commission Chairman Todd Hiett said. “With a directive to staff to revise the rule impact statement.”
75 percent of that money goes to the law enforcement agency that cites the train, the rest of the money goes to the Corporation Commission.