Union Pacific apologizes for blocking access to Thrall ISD - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Union Pacific apologizes for blocking access to Thrall ISD

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Managers with the Union Pacific Railroad issued an apology Thursday for blocking access to a school Wednesday morning. It was a situation that was more than just an inconvenience.

Those who work and live in the Williamson County town of Thrall know there are times they'll have to wait for a train to pass. But it's those trains that never seem to leave that really cause a problem according to Kevin Massar, who works at a local company.

"It's not the first time it happens, it probably happens on average maybe five or six times a month. And this past time it caused a big stink for the kiddos in the schools," said Massar.

Images of that "stink" were captured on Dash Cam video and posted on the Thrall Police Department Facebook site. Police Chief Whitney Whitworth voiced his frustration as he drove around the gridlock.

"The problem you have this is not a safe route to school it's absolutely a nightmare," said Chief Whitworth.

Wednesday morning a union pacific crew blocked the only two crossings in thrall for about a half an hour. The local schools are only a block from the tracks. The Chief wrote on the department's Facebook page that some kids even considered crawling under the train to get across.

This problem in Thrall was caused by work being done in Taylor. Union Pacific managers had decided to use the double tracks in Thrall to connect freight cars while the rail yard was being upgraded. A spokesperson with Union Pacific admitted they could have done a better job planning things out. So the plan now is to switch cars overnight, Thursday, along an area between Hutto and Taylor. By Friday all the work will return to the Taylor Rail Yard. Rail managers also went to Thrall and apologized to Mayor Troy Marx.

"So it is huge they came out , I also had them go and talk to the Superintendent of the school because it did put a lot of kids lives in danger because there were buses back up on the highway," said Mayor Marx.

They mayor says Union Pacific has promised to be a better neighbor-- and that will have to do. Federal law has struck down past attempts by local communities to issue tickets to train companies for blocking the tracks.

Rail mangers say their goal is not to block tracks for more than 10 minutes. But as many people have come to learn that's a goal, not a promise.

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