WORTHINGTON - Area residents now have the opportunity to receive alerts to their phone or email if a train is anticipated to block a street for what would amount to more than a brief wait for motorists.

The first alert went out Wednesday morning to individuals who had already signed up to receive public safety messages through Nixle, an electronic messaging system used by the city and Nobles County.

In what a Union Pacific spokesperson categorized as a unique partnership, the railroad company and the Worthington Police Department have teamed up to alert those who opt in to the messaging system when a train will likely block an intersection for more than 10 minutes between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. When known, the messages will include information related to the purpose of the extended blockage and when it is anticipated to be remediated.

Within city limits, the two railroad crossings that will be subject to an extended blockage alert are near First Avenue on 12th Street and near First Avenue Southwest and Flower Lane. Blockage of the crossing at Nobles County 10 would also likely be subject to an alert, said Worthington Police Capt. Kevin Flynn.

The goal, Flynn said, is to give people advance notice when possible so that they may find an alternative route.

“An extra 10 minutes is a big deal when trying to get to work or school,” Flynn said, giving an example of why the city police department and UP have started the partnership.

According to Kristen South, a spokesperson for UP, the railroad company will contact the police department for situations that are known in advance that may cause long-term blockages. That may include maintenance projects like track or crossing repairs.

“We appreciate the community and we want to be good neighbors,” she said. “We want to provide information to people so that they can go about their daily lives so we have as little impact as possible.”

There’s a variety of ways people can sign up to receive Nixle alerts. A forum is available directly on the city’s website, ci.worthington.mn.us/nixle.

Messaging options include text, voice and or email alerts. Voice alerts are available on cell and home phone numbers.

Visit nixle.com and enter “56187” in the zip code box at any time to see the latest messages for the area. The page provides an option to sign up for alerts. Anyone could also text a zip code to 888777 to opt in.