BNSF and local officials discuss crossing issue

Concerned citizens, local officials and a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) safety director met on November 12 to gather information to help solve the railroad crossing issue in the city of Baker.

 

 

 

Posted November 15, 2013

By Lori Kesinger

Concerned citizens, local officials and a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) safety director met on November 12 to gather information to help solve the railroad crossing issue in the city of Baker.

The meeting was prompted by a September 29 fire on the north side of Baker. The fire departmentʼs repsponse to the fire was delayed by BNSF trains blocking all three railroad crossings in Baker. The home owned by John, Sandra and Ernest Lizer and rented by Mickey and Julie Parent was destroyed in the fire.

Approximately 35 people were present for the Fallon County Commission meeting in the library basement. Chuck Lee, Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) director, mediated the relatively calm interaction between Rick Van Wey, BNSF safety director, officials and citizens. Lee noted, “This is not only an issue for the north side of Baker, but for anywhere North.” Jason Dulin, Montana Highway Patrol, said, “The trains blocking the crossings also become a road hazard because of the traffic back up.”

Van Wey stated “It is an urgent situation, and I will take the information to BNSF departments that can act upon this issue.” Discussion was held on the transition of the trains on the siding and main line tracks affecting the crossings in Baker. Six years ago a meeting was held for the same issue with resolve by a gentlemanʼs agreement. Improvements on the crossing issue were implemented but eventually waned over time.

Though some discussions became tense during the meeting, Van Wey said, “I am gathering information to find a solution, and hopefully it will be in place immediately.” Lee stated, “The most practical short term solution would be to move the hold east of the main street crossing.” It was discussed having an agreement put in writing, and also implementing ordinances to hold BNSF accountable. Lee said, “We need to get something started on short term and work on a long term solution.”

      



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