§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.
(2) No employee performing his duties under the operating rules or orders of the railroad company or carrier or its supervisory personnel shall be prosecuted for any violation of this Section.
(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.
B.(1) Every railroad shall be operated in such a manner as to minimize obstruction of emergency vehicles at public highway grade crossings.
(2) Upon receiving notification from a law enforcement officer, member of a fire department, operator of an emergency vehicle, or a member of an emergency services provider that emergency circumstances require the clearing of a public highway railroad grade crossing, the members of the train crew of the train, railroad car or equipment, or engine blocking such crossing shall immediately notify the appropriate railroad dispatcher of the pending emergency situation and request the clearing of such crossing, consistent with the safe operation of the train.
(3) Every railroad dispatcher or other person responsible for the movement of a train, railroad car or equipment, or engine in a specific area who receives notification that a train, railroad car or equipment, or engine is obstructing the movement of an emergency vehicle at any crossing within such area shall immediately notify the train crew through use of existing communication facilities. Upon notification, the train crew shall take immediate action in accordance with this Subsection.
C.(1) Any person riding upon a train, railroad car or equipment, or engine which is running through or within this state who is accountable for the movement of the train, car or equipment, or engine shall keep on his person or upon the train, railroad car or equipment, or engine written identification of the person, corporation, firm, or agent by whom he is employed.
(2) It shall be the responsibility of any railroad company or carrier operating any railroad, engine, or train within this state to inform the chief law enforcement officer of each parish or municipality in which it operates of the telephone numbers of the railroad dispatch center having jurisdiction over such railroad, engine, or train in the parish or municipality. The information shall be updated within forty-eight hours of any change, but no less than once every six months.
D.(1) Any railroad or public agency may, by formal application to the Department of Transportation and Development, request a variance from the requirements of this Section or have different regulations provided in connection with operation over a specific crossing where local conditions so require. The application shall list any public agencies within the geographic area or any railroads which may be affected by the variance and shall detail any previous steps which may have been taken in an attempt to reach an agreement on or alternative to the proposed variance.
(2) The department shall promulgate rules and regulations for the implementation and administration of the application process provided in this Subsection.
Acts 1998, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 120, §1.