Court rules Weyauwega cannot issue citations to trains for blocking streets

Railroad Crossing Sign (WLUK/Mike Moon)

(WLUK) – A state appeals court ruled Thursday that Weyauwega doesn’t have the authority to issue citations to the Wisconsin Central railroad for blocking streets for more than 10 minutes.

The city issued multiple citations to the railroad – including one prompted by a 69-minute road blockage in March 2015. The railroad appealed that and 39 other pending citations. A Waupaca County judge upheld the city’s ordinance, but the railroad appealed again. And while the railroad didn’t dispute it violated the ordinance, it says the Federal Railroad Safety Act takes precedence over the local ordinance.

The applicable part of Weyauwega ordinance: CODE ch. 454, art. III, § 454-28

“No person shall leave standing or stop or permit or allow to stand or stop any railroad train, engine, or car upon any street or highway crossing within the City so as to obstruct public travel for a greater period of time than 10 minutes, unless such train or engine or car is continuously in motion.”

In the 26-page ruling, the Court of Appeals agreed with the railroad.

“We conclude that the FRSA and its accompanying regulations preempt the City’s ordinance and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the circuit court,” the decision states.

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