Railroad crossing causes traffic backups around Big E fairgrounds

Western Mass News is getting answers on what is being done to prevent these issues.
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:22 PM EDT
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Traffic is always a big issue when the Big E opens up in town, but this year, many residents are complaining about another cause of traffic: trains blocking railroad crossings.

Western Mass News is getting answers on what is being done to prevent these issues.

West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt told us that the railroad crossing on Front Street has been an issue for years, and traffic always gets worse when the Big E begins.

People writing in the West Springfield community forum on Facebook caught our attention, complaining about a popular railroad crossing.

One post read: “CSX stopped right as Big E let out. Held hostage as River Road is bumper to bumper…”

Another post read: “We have been waiting over 30 minutes to cross the tracks into West Springfield. River Road is a parking lot after the Big E.”

We took their concerns to West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt, who told Western Mass News that Big E traffic this year actually has not been as bad as recent years, but the roadblock at the railroad crossing has been a longstanding issue.

“At least once, if not twice, occasionally three times, that it can be at least over a half hour, if not sometimes upwards of an hour,” Mayor Reichelt said.

The railroad crossing in question is on Front Street in West Springfield, used by CSX Trains. It is one of only two ways to leave the Big E and head into West Springfield.

“When you’re blocking a whole crossing and not allowing people to get over, it gridlocks traffic everywhere throughout the two communities,” Mayor Reichelt told us.

He wants to remind residents that they put up flashing lights a few miles from the railroad crossing to warn them of a train crossing. That way, they can turn around and find another route before getting stuck by the train.

The day before the Big E kicked off, Mayor Reichelt met with engineers to come up with a proposal to apply for a federal grant through the infrastructure bill, hoping to use those funds to alleviate these traffic jam issues.

“To build a flyover on the west side of the bridge that will take you from Second and Summit, and it will go down and around the tracks and connect to the bridge on the other side,” Mayor Reichelt explained. “So, it will completely alleviate the crossings.”

Although the grant sounds promising, Mayor Reichelt said it could be another five to ten years until that change is made.