Near Bandemer Park

Stopped. Watched. icon

Along the railroad track, near Argo Dam and Bandemer, behind the new First Martin Corp. building, Michigan State Police handing out tickets to folks as part of a “trespassing abatement” program. Officers say tickets are $500.

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  1. By Kris
    June 9, 2009 at 8:40 pm | permalink

    Wow, there is a waste of our tax dollars! I hope it was at least in an area where it’s apparent the people are trespassing and the people have recieved a warning.
    I’ve also heard railroad officials have staked out the crossing from Huron River Drive to Bandemeer park, fortunately they are easy to avoid on foot and on bike.

  2. By Duane Collicott
    June 9, 2009 at 11:16 pm | permalink

    Railroad engineers really don’t like hitting people, and don’t enjoy the years of therapy that come from watching human bodies torn apart by the front of their locomotives.

    That is private property, and this is reasonable law enforcement, just as it would be if it were my property or yours.

  3. By rodii
    June 9, 2009 at 11:30 pm | permalink

    How many pedestrians does that happen to (as opposed to cars trying to sneak past gates)?

  4. By 1john
    June 10, 2009 at 12:43 am | permalink

    Advice to anybody who got a ticket: take it to court. In order for a trespassing charge to stick to area in question has to be fenced and/or adequately posted with “no trespassing” signs. The tracks in AA ARE NOT properly posted. Just a cheap way to raise revenue. Yes there are idiots who think trains can stop like cars and endanger themselves on the tracks but handing out tickets does nothing to deter the stupid.

  5. By Duane Collicott
    June 10, 2009 at 12:43 am | permalink

    Why does it matter how many? Why isn’t it OK to enforce the law before it happens to one more person?

  6. By Simon
    June 10, 2009 at 8:17 am | permalink

    @#4 1John -

    The law is MCL 462.273. What you said is true for private property, but there is a special law covering train yards and tracks.

  7. By Tom Brandt
    June 10, 2009 at 9:21 am | permalink

    @rodii #3: I’ve had two trips from AA to Chicago held up by a pedestrian hit by a train – although one was a suicide.

  8. By Duane Collicott
    June 10, 2009 at 10:36 am | permalink

    I have also twice had trains stopped and delayed by people on the tracks. It’s a real pain, because in addition to the time spent working with the local police, the fact that the emergency brakes were applied means the crew must also do a thorough visual inspection of the entire train.

  9. By Tim
    June 10, 2009 at 11:40 am | permalink

    For what it’s worth, the fine limitation in MCL 462.273: is $100.

  10. By rodii
    June 10, 2009 at 11:44 am | permalink

    By that logic, anything that endangers one person should be stopped. This includes flying, driving and bathing. Every society and every individual balances risks against benefits. People who cross railroad tracks are deciding that the benefits of not having your city arbitrarily cut in half outweigh the risks of getting hit by a train.

    The owners of the tracks have clearly decided the risk of a pedestrian getting hurt is worth it compared to the cost of fencing in the tracks or not having crossings at grade. Why should pedestrians have to pay $500 for making the same assessment?

  11. By rodii
    June 10, 2009 at 11:47 am | permalink

    To be clear, I’m not saying the police are legally in the wrong here. I’m saying that this should be treated like jaywalking–a modestly dangerous activity that warrants a modest penalty.

  12. By Duane Collicott
    June 10, 2009 at 12:05 pm | permalink

    >By that logic, anything that endangers one person should be stopped. This includes flying, driving and bathing.

    Well, if the plane, car or pool was being used without permission and against the owner’s wishes, then that would be a comparable scenario to this one, and the law should be enforced.

  13. June 10, 2009 at 12:31 pm | permalink

    I cross over a path which is over the RR tracks to get from the B2B from Huron River Drive which seems much safer than the bike ride on Main to cross to B2B. I could get one of these hefty tickets, I guess. Good to know.

    I won’t go that way anymore. BTW it is a well worn path I follow. There is no sign.

  14. June 10, 2009 at 12:46 pm | permalink

    >BTW it is a well worn path I follow. There is no sign.

    Not to mention the connection from HRD to Bandemer actually has a constructed wooden path over a wet/rocky area… there’s really nothing indicating that it’s not a maintained/sanctioned path.

  15. By rodii
    June 10, 2009 at 1:09 pm | permalink

    Duane: I still don’t see how this is different from jaywalking, which is a risky and (in some places, though not Ann Arbor?) illegal activity which is usually not punished with a $500 fine. Not everything that is illegal is enforced with the same degree of vigor. So here we have a case where an activity which is very common (who hasn’t crossed or walked along railroad tracks?), and which carries a fairly low level of risk (but a high degree of impact!), is suddenly and selectively being enforced with a very punitive fine. It’s more like a speed trap than ordinary enforcement. So I’m not disputing the illegality, I just think the amount of the fine is disproportionate.

    It’s interesting to me that one of the exceptions in the law is for farmers crossing tracks between two halves of their fields. It’s no less dangerous for them than it is for Bandemer Park users, so why is it OK? The answer is obviously that the economic hardship of not crossing has been weighed against the risk of crossing and economics wins. So it’s not just a safety issue. My guess is that this burst of enforcement is primarily about liability exposure–periodically showing the flag lets them argue in court that they did their due diligence and therefore it’s the victim’s fault (which it is, not disputing that).

    Anyway, I didn’t mean to be argumentative. I understand the point you’re making.

  16. June 10, 2009 at 3:46 pm | permalink

    Where do they get the $500 fine part?

    “(5) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or by a fine of not more than $100.00, or both.”

  17. By Duane Collicott
    June 11, 2009 at 12:32 am | permalink

    It was one of the commenters who refernced MCL 462.27, not the original posting. However, it did mention a “trespassing abatement” program, so I’m guessing these were trespassing violations,not violations of MCL 462.27.

    @rodii – jaywalking doesn’t involve private property. They’re very different situations.

  18. By rodii
    June 11, 2009 at 1:21 am | permalink

    I don’t see why you keep coming back to private property as the definitive issue here, but it seems to be important to you. That must be why we have cops out writing $500 tickets for trespassing everywhere, I guess.

  19. By Duane Collicott
    June 11, 2009 at 8:12 am | permalink

    I’m just staying on-topic. Trespassing involves private property. It’s not important to me, but it is apparently an important issue for the land owner. Here’s where you can contact them:

  20. June 11, 2009 at 9:12 pm | permalink

    I’m all in favor of providing safe ways to cross the tracks. The problem here is that there was a safe, legal crossing of North Main over both the tracks and the river for nearly a hundred years. It was removed in the early 1960s so a freeway could be put in. No alternate was supplied until just a few years ago when the path along the river was built to Lakeshore Drive, and that’s completely inadequate as it’s only usable in summer.

    Farther south, where these tickets were issued, there is just no good way to get from North Main to Argo dam. A bridge or tunnel is needed here, and has been discussed, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Contrast this 50 year wait for North Main to be restored to the few weeks that were required to restore the freeway bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis and you start to realize how screwed up our priorities are.

  21. By Kris
    June 12, 2009 at 7:31 pm | permalink

    Does the railroad own the land it’s on or is it simply provided an easement or right of way?