Claremore Daily Progress

December 9, 2012

Citizens criticize crossing closure

BNSF working to average 34 trains through Claremore

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — A crowded room of concerned citizens gathered Thursday to hear a proposal from the BNSF railroad regarding the possible closure of the train crossing located at South 4170 Road. 

“I think the biggest concern most of us have is safety,” Brian Green said. “I would much rather be inconvenienced an hour a day and the track stay open.”
Multiple comments were made concerning the issue of crossing or entering Highway 66 in the area.
“It is a safety issue and that is why I use this crossing when driving the bus,” said Vicki Taylor, bus driver for Sequoyah Public Schools. 
Citizens echoed the argument that it would be a risk to public safety with the only nearby fire hydrant being located near the crossing.
Kami Minor, BNSF public Projects representative, gave a brief presentation.
Rogers County Commissioner Dan DeLozier assisted Minor with the question and answer session.
“This is an informational meeting. There has not been any decisions made,” DeLozier said. 
DeLozier requested the public meeting after approached by railroad representatives about the possible closure.
“I felt it was better that everyone gets a chance to listen to the proposal, that uses the roads out there,” DeLozier said.
Minor was quick to explain that no decision has been made and the she would be taking back the citizens’ comments for review.
“There has been no agreements or under the table deals or money exchanged,” Minor said. 
Currently, the mainline averages 28 trains a day, according to Minor.
BNSF is working to run at an average of 34 trains per day, she added.
BNSF Railway Company has expansion plans that include construction of an additional track adjacent to the existing mainline track from E450 Road to S4160 (Briscoe Road). The S4170 Road grade crossing is proposed as a closure to facilitate the staging of a train on the proposed track between road crossings.
This line is currently running at full capacity and a siding is needed to relieve traffic, according to Minor.
The plan is to add a track to be used as a siding from Akin Road to North Frisco Road. With this closure it would prevent trains from blocking any intersections when parked in the area, according to Minor.
BNSF officials in Ft. Worth will be reviewing the data to make a final decision on the location.
The closure cannot occur without the approval of the Rogers County Commissioners.
There is a possibility that a train siding could be constructed without the crossing closure, although it would require the train engineer to break the train every time it is used.
This is not the ideal situation, according to Minor.
If the intersection is closed BNSF will be making a financial contribution to upgrade the nearby crossing at the intersection of 450 Road and Akin Road.
Additionally, the closing would help alleviate the current situation with trains blocking the tracks in Claremore.