Trains

In Claremore, all roads, and most conversations, lead to trains.

This week's Claremore City Council meeting was no different as the council discussed the recent train breakdown that blocked a crossing for over an hour.

Claremore City Manager Jim Thomas said frustration over the lack of communication through the weekend breakdown has prompted him to file a formal complaint.

"I am filing a formal complaint with our congressional delegation because there still seems to be a gap with the two railroads. When there are issues that cause a train to stop in the middle of town, we still need to work through that," Thomas said.

In all, the crossing was shut down for roughly an hour and the backlog of trains took additional time to clear out.

"Luckily no one had road rage, or train rage," Thomas said. "People were diplomatic, but it's just a constant battle."

Thomas said when the northeast 911 Center calls and says there's a train block and asks the status so they can communicate with police, fire and ambulance—and the city doesn't get a courtesy call back—there's a problem.

"That's what we're frustrated with both railroads…It is disappointing," Thomas said.

Police Chief Stan Brown said he's concerned about emergency responders being held up by the delay.

"As an example. Talala Fire District had a fire truck delayed over 13 minutes Saturday on their way to a grass fire with a structure in danger as a result of the crossing," Brown said. "Two miles down the line and it's us…This is important and effects all of us."

Better communication, he said, is key.

"We're never going to get rid of the trains here, at least not in our lifetime. At least we can figure out a way to communicate alternate routes," Brown said.

Thomas told the council a meeting was held with Union Pacific last week—prior to the weekend incident.

The meeting was held to discuss the creation of quiet zones in Claremore.

"That continues to be a priority for us. We're not going to re-route the trains, but there has to be a way they can come through town without blowing their horns," Thomas said.

Discussion on the project and price tag left Thomas and the attending council members frustrated.

"It's a challenge and there are some days I want to pull my hair out," Thomas said. "Several of us live a mile from the tracks and yet we can still hear the trains. I have a true sympathy for those living closer, they just deserve better."

Thomas added, "We've been living with it since 1850. The people of Claremore just deserve better."