NORTH BEND, Neb. (AP) — Residents of a lakeside community in eastern Nebraska say they’re worried and frustrated about stopped freight trains that can block access to their homes for hours.
Residents near Legge Lake tell the Omaha World-Herald that Union Pacific Railroad trains have frequently blocked two Dodge County roads and limited access to their homes over the years. But the problem has recently escalated, with trains blocking both roads for hours at a time several times a week.
“We wonder what would happen if there were an emergency,” resident Suzy Crabb said. “One of our neighbors is elderly with a heart condition, and he’s very concerned.”
A crew is working to replace concrete railroad ties in the area near North Bend, according to Union Pacific spokeswoman Kristen South. Weather issues also contribute to congestion, she said.
“We are doing everything possible to prevent extended blockages and leave at least one access point available to Legge Lake residents,” South said.
She encouraged residents to call the railroad’s Response Management Communications Center if there’s an emergency.
“Emergency protocols exist, and a train can be broken, if necessary,” South said.
Nebraska Public Service Commission regulations require stopped trains to move within 10 minutes after a vehicle or pedestrian comes to a crossing. If a train can’t be moved, crews are supposed to separate enough train cars to open access to the crossing.
Dodge County Attorney Oliver Glass said he was informed of the issue Thursday and has contacted the local sheriff’s office.
“State law appears to show we could cite the railroad for a misdemeanor offense punishable by a $500 fine, but I am hoping that the situation can be resolved through open communication with the residents and the railroad,” he said.
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com