BNSF, LOCAL OFFICIALS ADDRESS NASHUA CROSSING PROBLEMS
By Samar Fay, Courier Editor
Published: Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
A preliminary meeting was held last Wednesday to discuss the problem of trains blocking the railroad crossing in Nashua.
Fifteen people filled the small Nashua town office to talk about safety concerns when emergency vehicles can’t get through on Highway 117. They represented the town, law enforcement, Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway and the Montana Department of Transportation.
“Since I’ve been sheriff, there are complaints all the time about trains on the tracks,” said Sheriff Glen Meier. “It’s a safety concern that we can’t get around the tracks when trains are switching. Then throw the Bakken in. The Keystone XL is all but decided. We’re going to get a lot more traffic.”
Michael Frisinger, the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe trainmaster from Williston, said there are 30 to 35 trains per day and there will be more trains carrying crude oil and ag products in the future.
“I don’t know if there are more trains, but you just can’t get across the tracks any more,” Nashua Mayor Pat Hallett said. “People are half an hour late for school.”
Meier proposed a paved truck route to U.S. 2 on the west side of Nashua.
“I’m not trying to kick BNSF at all,” he said. “The county loves BN. They’re very cooperative with requests for emergency vehicles. This is a very simple fix.”
Shane Mintz with MDT pointed out that highway studies cost about $180,000 and take about one year, plus a brand new road would not be a federally funded project.
“We want to do the right thing,” Frisinger said. “It’s unfortunate that the crossing is sometimes blocked.”
He said trains should hold back from the crossing while waiting for other trains to pass.
“The root cause is compliance with crews, not blocking,” Frisinger said.
Valley County Commissioner Dave Pippin said that a formal request to BNSF from the commissioners, Nashua and the Sheriff’s Office would start the problem-solving process. Montana Sen. John Brenden urged BN and DOT to send people soon for assessments and ideas.
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