In 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that an Illinois statute prohibiting the blocking of a highway-rail
crossing and allowing a community to issue tickets to rail carriers was unconstitutional and
preempted by the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1994 and the Interstate Commerce
Commission Termination Act of 1995. The Illinois statute structure provided and included
requirements for interactions with emergency vehicles, and included increasing fines based
upon time intervals for obstructions over ten minutes. At the lower end with an obstruction
under 15 minutes, the fine is $200 to $500; at the higher end for over 35 minutes the fine is
$1000 as well as $500 for each additional 5 minutes of obstruction. From 2009 to 2018, similar
laws from other states were met with federal preemption findings, and a 2019 Oklahoma law
is currently under a Federal Injunction.
As an additional note: The operational costs of delays for a train are on the order of $28,000 per hour (Wisconsin Rail Action Plan 2023). The $500 fines are meaningless compared to internal rail motivation to avert delays.