Claremore residents oppose proposed railroad crossing change
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Monday, December 17, 2012
12/17/12 at 5:39 AM
CLAREMORE - Some Rogers County residents are concerned about a proposed Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway expansion that could close a railroad crossing and direct traffic to an area they say is more dangerous.
BNSF held a public meeting last week to discuss the plan, which would involve the construction of about two miles of siding from E450 Road (NE Akin) to S4160 (Briscoe Road), northeast of Claremore, said BNSF spokesman Joe Faust. Siding is a stretch of track used to allow trains on the same line to pass.
Part of the proposal, which would have to be approved by county commissioners, could entail closing a nearby railroad crossing at S4170 Road.
"If we close it, we can reroute motorists to another crossing, and it will allow us to park our trains there for an extended period of time and not negatively impact the motorists who use that (4170) crossing," Faust said.
BNSF operates about 32,000 route miles of track over 20 Western states, Faust said.
"What we try to do is look at the most feasible way to move our traffic across that territory," he said. "We're always looking for efficiencies along those routes."
Some of the estimated 75 residents who attended the Dec. 6 public meeting were concerned about being detoured to E450 to cross the track and get on Oklahoma 66, County Commissioner Dan DeLozier said.
The intersection has a stop sign instead of a stoplight, and motorists' visibility is limited because of a rise in the highway to the north.
The speed limit on Oklahoma 66 through that area is 65 mph.
"It's not so much as an inconvenience as it is the safety factor," said Brenda Martin, who lives nearby. "That's a dangerous intersection.
"You just have those few seconds to cross the road. Everybody's trying to get on (Oklahoma) 66, and you can't see that traffic well enough."
Robert Aguilar is manager of Rogers County Rural Water District No. 2, which sits mere feet from the 4170 crossing at Oklahoma 66.
"We get freight on semis, water meters and pipe and other stuff," he said. "If that was cut off, it would affect us pretty bad."
The water district and adjacent Ira M. Green Construction also are situated between the railroad track and a spur that in the past has delivered coal to the American Electric Power-Public Service Co. of Oklahoma power plant in Oologah.
"If they started using that (spur) again, we would be locked in," Aguilar said.
During the work week, dump trucks continually arrive at and leave Green Construction, whose main office building houses five businesses, said Joanne Green, one of the Green Construction owners.
"The school buses flow by here," she said. "If you put the school buses and you put all our dump trucks and you put our 18-wheeler with equipment at the same time of the morning, business-time, going out that one (E450) crossing, along with all the people taking their kids to school, you're going to have an overload there."
Her son, Brian Green, also has developed plans for more than 800 homesites west of 4170, she said.
"I sit here every day and from my office window, and I see the amount of traffic that goes through there," Joanne Green said. "It (4170) is a major road for the community."
Original Print Headline: Rail crossing change opposed
Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395
Vehicles wait while a train crosses at County Road 4170 in Rogers County. The Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway has proposed closing the crossing to street traffic so it can build siding (a staging area) to increase train traffic. RHETT MORGAN / Tulsa World