Trains blocking intersections frustrate Grand Island residents


    Trains blocking intersections frustrates Grand Island residents (NTV News)

    Many of us have dealt with the inconvenience of being stuck behind a train in traffic, but it usually only lasts a few minutes. Some people in Grand Island are saying their intersections are being tied up for hours at a time and they are fed up with it.

    A problem slowly growing over the past few years, people living in northern Grand Island near Highway 2, especially its intersections with Webb Road, North Road, and Engleman Road have noticed trains sitting, blocking intersections for hours at a time.

    "I live right next to the railroad tracks. The railroad has started stopping the trains there leaving them there for extended amounts of time. I started keeping track on the 27th of December and I kept track for 100 hours. The crossing was blocked for 57 hours and ten minutes of that hundred hours," said Shaun Shepardson, who lives right near one of the intersections being blocked.

    People living around the problem intersections have been trying to get some kind of response from Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the railroad company responsible for the trains.

    But they said they either get a cold shoulder or empty promises.

    "We are not getting any answers from the railroad when we do call on it. They give us the telephone number to call, we try but we aren't getting any answers on it so we brought it to the board for assistance to see what direction they want us to take it to," said Rick Dubbs, another resident who lives near the affected intersections.

    "That means the arms are down and the bell is ringing and that's all you hear is ding ding ding ding ding. You call the railroad, I called Andy Williams from the railroad, left him four messages he finally calls me back says he will look into it but hasn't done one anything," said Shepardson.

    The Hall County Board of supervisors sympathized with their complaints and have tasked supervisor Gary Quandt to see if there are solutions available.

    "The county board set it up today that I will be leading a committee to work with the county attorney and sheriff and the city to help these people out somehow so they will be able to get across the tracks one way or another," said Quandt.

    Right now, there isn't a whole lot that residents can do to get the trains off the tracks. But they are hoping that now they have brought the issue up to the Hall County board of supervisors there will be a little more authority behind their complaints and they can work something out to get the intersection cleared.

    We had a chance to reach out to BNSF about the issue and spoke with public affairs director Andy Williams who let us know that the railroad is aware of the issues in Grand Island and feels it is in the railroad's best interest as well as residents to get trains moving quickly. He said BNSF plans on continuing to coordinate with local officials to find a solution that benefits residents and helps keep trains moving and said they are experimenting with possibly changing where trains stop before going through Grand Island. He said they are also working on a solution to stop railroad crossing alarm bells from ringing when a train has sat for an extended period of time.

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