Crossing a railroad track is the only way in and out of a community in Natchitoches and residents are increasingly concerned by the frequent trains that block their passage.
Train delays have been plaguing the Pan-Am community for over 20 years and after a Union Pacific train was stopped on the tracks for seven hours last week, they say they've had enough.
"It was horrible. We had people that couldn't go to work," said resident Joella Wilson. "We had people that couldn't go to doctor's appointments. There were people that needed to get their medicine that couldn't get it. We're tired now; we need some help"
Union Pacific Corporate Communications released a statement on May 27 which reads:
"We have been notified of the train blocking the crossing. This is the result of unanticipated delays caused by another train operating ahead of it. Due to the delay, our crew's service hours expired. A new crew is currently in route to the location. We sincerely apologize to those impacted by these delays and believe this to be an isolated event."
Pan-Am resident Gloria Diane Young said the delay was far too long.
"They said we're looking at three more hours and three more hours had passed. That is not right," she said. "An ambulance came, they had to bring the lady across in a stretcher. Do you think that's right?"
Natchitoches Mayor Lee Posey recognizes the crossing has been an issue.
"This not acceptable what happened and we've talked to them and been assured it will never happen again," he said.
Young has her own solution to the problem.
"We've been fighting this battle for over 20 years," she said. "Just give us an access road to get out of here."
"If you can go put out the money that Natchitoches has put to beautify this community surely you can give us a road," he said.
Posey said a concrete road would be expensive and an access road for emergencies would be more feasible in the short term.
"We've been quoted some figures that are quite much but we're interested more in a safety road and that is a lot more doable," he said.
Young hopes a solution is reached soon.
"We were born and raised here. People say, 'Why don't y'all move?' Why? Why should we move? This is my neighborhood," she said. "I'm not leaving."
Posey said he will meet with Union Pacific officials the coming weeks to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.
In response to KSLA News 12's inquiry as to why this has been an ongoing problem in this community, Union Pacific responded with this statement:
"The rail line that travels through Natchitoches connects busy rail terminals in Shreveport and Alexandria, Louisiana, as well as accommodates rail traffic bound for our major classification yard in Livonia.
Louisiana industries for which we move freight include paper manufacturing, lumber production, chemicals and destination traffic for auto manufacturing assembly plants.
Union Pacific is in the midst of an approximately $500 million investment in its infrastructure throughout Louisiana to help operate more efficiently in communities while supporting customer demand and future economic growth."
Emergencies on railroad property and blocked crossings can be reported to Union Pacific at 888-877-7267.
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