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If you've ever been held up by one of the trains in Bossier City, you know why we want to know how long they can just sit there! They can be downright infuriating. It's the one on Airline Drive just south of I-20 that always catches me and ONLY when I'm in a hurry. That's why it was no surprise to see this pop up on the City of Bossier satire page on Facebook today.

If you know, you know, right? But it's definitely a question worth exploring.

How long can a train legally stop in Louisiana?

According to Louisiana State Law, TITLE 48 — Roads, bridges, and ferries, RS 48:391 — Obstruction of railroad grade crossings, the law states:

§391. Obstruction of railroad grade crossings

A.(1) It shall be unlawful for any train, railroad car or equipment, or engine to obstruct vehicular traffic at a public highway railroad grade crossing for a period in excess of twenty consecutive minutes, except when such train, railroad car or equipment, or engine is moving or when such movement is prevented by any of the following:

(a) A power brake failure or other mechanical failure.

(b) Enforcement of the Hours of Service Act.

(c) Derailment or other accident.

(d) A directive of the Federal Railway Administration.

(e) Circumstances over which the railroad company or carrier has no reasonable control, such as a natural disaster or acts of third parties.

Boom! So, if a motorist waits an hour at a train crossing in Louisiana, we have a problem, and that is when fines start being levied. If you continue reading through the statute, it actually lists the fines by the amount of time the intersection in question is being blocked.

(3) Any rail carrier violating the provisions of Paragraph (1) of this Subsection shall be fined as follows:

(a) If the duration of the obstruction is in excess of twenty minutes, but not longer than twenty-five minutes, the fine shall be not less than two hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars.

(b) If the duration of the obstruction is in excess of twenty-five minutes, but not longer than thirty minutes, the fine shall be five hundred dollars.

(c) If the duration of the obstruction is in excess of thirty minutes, but not longer than thirty-five minutes, the fine shall be seven hundred dollars.

(d) If the duration of the obstruction is in excess of thirty-five minutes, but not longer than forty minutes, the fine shall be nine hundred dollars.

(e) If the duration of the obstruction is in excess of forty minutes, but not longer than forty-five minutes, the fine shall be one thousand dollars.

(f) If the duration of the obstruction is in excess of forty-five minutes, the fine shall be one thousand dollars plus an additional five hundred dollars for each five minutes of obstruction in excess of forty-five minutes. However, the maximum fine shall not exceed five thousand dollars for an obstruction which occurs within a twenty-four hour period.

As you can tell, those fines can add up fast. Of course, there's a bunch more legalese, but you get the picture. So next time you're sitting there waiting for that nice train to start moving again, just start counting up the fines!

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