I think we've all been there.  Living (or more importantly - driving) in the Northland, we've probably all encountered a railroad crossing and waited while a train passed.  This is especially true with the large number of railroad companies that operate multiple tracks throughout the region; it's hard not to encounter a crossing somewhere on your route.

One of the common points of discussion and contention is how long a train can block the traffic that backs up on the roadway.  While some trains might seem like they "go on forever", twenty minutes is the standard that railroad operators are held up to.  However, that time duration means nothing when is no one around to report an offense to.

The Federal Railroad Administration is making that process easier.  At the same time, they're bringing the reporting process into the modern, digital world.

Recently, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) updated their web portal to allow for streamlined, efficient reporting.  The website - which is accessible from a cellphone - features a zoomable interactive map that lets you zero-in on the specific railroad crossing you're having a problem with.

Once you navigate to that railroad crossing, you a reporting tool opens up.  Many of the response fields are already there (i.e. whether or not you've already contacted the railroad, what was the reason that the crossing was blocked, what impacts were there, etc); at the same time, there are blank commentary fields that allow the user to leave detailed information about the specific blocked railroad crossing situation.

Here's an example of what the submission fields look like.


In addition, the FRA's web portal provides information about blocked railroad crossings over a period of time (ex: last 24 hours, last 30 days, last 12 months).

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