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Ask a Trooper: How long can trains block railroad crossings?

Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Trooper

Question: I was stuck at a train crossing the other day for a half-hour. What is the law on how long a train can block the road crossing and who do I report this to? How do I get this fixed as it seems to happen far too often?

Answer: Minnesota law says trains are not to block public roads or streets longer than 10 minutes. You can report any problem to the local government (city, county or state), which can then contact the appropriate railroad company. The state law does not apply to cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, which regulate obstructions of streets by city ordinance.

If there is an ongoing issue, first contact the particular railroad company. If you're unable to locate appropriate contact information, try their central offices — typically a public works engineer. If there is no available information, reach out to railroad staff members with the Minnesota Department of Transportation at

A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol, 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811. You can follow me on Twitter @MSPPIO_NE or reach me at