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Train blocks downtown traffic

STAFF REPORT

A train stopped on the tracks in the heart of San Marcos, wreaking havoc on rush-hour traffic for more than an hour Friday afternoon.

San Marcos police said the train was having brake issues and an emergency stop was required to check them.

Shortly before 5 p.m., the long train crawled to a stop after only about a dozen cars had crossed Hopkins Street going southwest. Drivers on Hopkins Street from Interstate-35 towards downtown diverted themselves to Riverside Drive so they could take an eastern route on Cheatham Street toward downtown, as the train hadn’t reached the tracks to block LBJ Drive or Guadalupe Street.

By about 5:40 p.m., the train inched forward enough to block LBJ Drive and Guadalupe Street while still blocking Hopkins. At 6 p.m., the train finally cleared Hopkins Street, enabling a smooth flow of traffic.

The train stopped about a block from San Marcos Plaza Park right as preparations were being made for Friday night’s Sights and Sounds of Christmas event, then cleared Hopkins Street right on time for the event to start.

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#1 Comment By Stewart Dale Spencer On 12/04/2009 @ 11:41 pm

I guess someone was not behaving while they were on “break” so the train had to apply the emergency “brake” to see what was happening. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Sorry. Couldn’t resist. Just a friendly jab. If I had a dime for every misused word in my writings . . .

Okay. The obvious question is since they had the ability to do an emergency stop, why couldn’t they just cruise slowly until they exited city limits and do their emergency stop at that time?

#2 Comment By Adam On 12/05/2009 @ 8:31 am

The trains think they own the world, and until citizens (and leaders) WAKE UP and DEMAND changes, they will continue to do just whatever they want! Example: We built the overpass at WonderWorld so they could stop under it and not block traffic, yet they routinely stop and block McCarty Road instead, just because they can. There are many ways, options, open to us to force change yet people continue to believe the MYTH that the trains are “gods” and allowed to do whatever they want to. So as long as citizens and their leaders want to believe those myths the trains will continue to cause pollution problems by tying up traffic, make good paying corporations think twice about moving here ’cause we have too many trains blocking traffic on a routine basis DAILY, and citizens being force to waste their disposable income on more gas for their cars as they wait on the uncaring, selfish train companies who are NOT good neighbors! (And no, the “only” answer is NOT to just relocate the tracks outside the city–that is just one option, a great one but expensive and long term. There are several very quick options if we think outside the box and aren’t too lazy to pursue them).

#3 Comment By Trevo On 12/05/2009 @ 9:52 am

My God Adam…take deep breath….now relax…thats right relax…ITS A FREAKING TRAIN!!! You will live…I promise.

#4 Comment By Mr. Speaker On 12/05/2009 @ 11:34 am

Well Adam, let’s hear what the solution is.

#5 Comment By CasualObserver On 12/05/2009 @ 11:44 am

Adam, dude, time to switch to decaf.

#6 Comment By AndyG On 12/05/2009 @ 12:01 pm

If the train crews had a bit of consideration for other people they could have decoupled some of the cars and pulled foward enough to not block the streets. Maybe if all of the drivers who are stuck in front of the train got out and started to throw the rocks from the tracks at the train cars the crews would get the idea.

There are things the city council could do to get the point across. A big fat fine for blocking the traffic longer than a specified time without prior notice would be a start. The main problem we have with the trains is blocking traffic. If the trains had to open gaps for traffic if they were going to be stopped across a street from any longer than 7 minutes that would go a long way to alleviate the problem.

When one of your geography major friends tells you that they have made a map of every town in Texas, population of 15,000 or more that is at least 25 miles from the nearest railroad, then you know they hve been here a bit too long. Some of my friends moved to Fredricksburg. One of the first things they said about it is that you cant even hear a train from there.

#7 Comment By Mr. Speaker On 12/05/2009 @ 2:42 pm

It’s like complaining about the weather. Until freight is re-routed out of SM, there will be traffic back-ups at grade crossings. We have over 20 of them in SM.

#8 Comment By Jason Harper On 12/05/2009 @ 3:30 pm

Adam said
“the trains will continue to cause pollution problems by tying up traffic”

That part was kind of funny

#9 Comment By Cori On 12/05/2009 @ 7:44 pm

Jason, why do you think that is a funny comment? In the winter during a long wait at the tracks, I turn my car off. But in the summer, with temps over 100 degrees and kids in the car, this is impossible. Think about all the cars idling for 5-10 minutes, running air conditioners, and you will realize that trains blocking traffic really *are* a cause of air pollution in town.

#10 Comment By Jason Harper On 12/05/2009 @ 10:44 pm

No Cori,
your car is the source and the cause of the pollution, not the train. By the way, people lived without air conditioning for tens of thousands of years. It’s hardly impossible.

#11 Comment By Cori On 12/06/2009 @ 10:50 am

This is of course true, Jason, but you are splitting hairs. I for one do not intend to subject my small child to 100 plus degree temperatures inside a metal box for who knows how long. It’s dangerous. And as I said, I *do* turn the car off when ever possible during waits at the tracks.

I know, I know…walk, ride a bike, take a horse. If only San Marcos were safely set up to do this, I’d gladly do my grocery run without the car! But we digress…

#12 Comment By Matt Akins On 12/06/2009 @ 12:26 pm

The solution to the train problem would be for every one of those containers to be on the back of one or two 18-wheelers driving up & down I-35.

…kidding

#13 Comment By Moe Johnson On 12/07/2009 @ 4:07 pm

This train was not here in San Marcos but the situation was the same- stalled train on the tracks out by the cement factory on Hunter Road. Very long wait – several young college age students found some spray paint and proceeded to do some art work on the cars along the road. Some of it was pretty creative – but with 45 minutes to wait it was better than just sitting there and wondering when the train was going to move. And you wonder how some of these graffiti artists find time to decorate the various cars – they live in San Marcos and just sit along the intersections and have all kinds of opportunities to do their creative thinking and decorations.

#14 Comment By Dani Steel On 12/08/2009 @ 12:23 pm

A beautiful point Moe. One of the only pleasures in a train cutting you off is that you get to admire the unbelievably diverse artwork, tags and written statements on the trains. Almost makes the interruption completely worth it.