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County to Keep Pressure on BNSF

July 5, 2012

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. trains have been blocking the railroad crossings in Sanborn for decades and the Barnes County Commission is remaining focused on a solution to the problem.

The commission decided Tuesday to coordinate a time for the sheriff or a deputy to be posted in Sanborn to catch a train engineer who is blocking traffic for longer than 10 minutes.

North Dakota Century Code allows for trains to block crossings for railroad operations for no more than 10 minutes, but Sanborn residents say they have been stopped there for much longer. The crossings are on the only paved road in and out of Sanborn, and concerns have been raised about access for emergency responders.

Sanborn is a heavily-used passing point for the railroad and trains have to pull over onto a side track to allow others to pass.

At a commission meeting in June, the commissioners decided to try to step up law enforcement presence in the city to fine engineers or the railroad for breaking the law.

Commissioner Phil Leitner said he would prefer not to pay officers overtime to watch the trains, and Commissioners John Froelich and Rodger Berntson said monitoring the railroad would take away from the officers other duties and patrols.

“If they see a patrol car sitting there, they’ll stop back where they should be,” Berntson said. “We’ve seen that happen.”

Commissioner Cindy Schwehr said it is possible for an officer to monitor the rails without being seen.

“There’s plenty of places to hide out there,” she said.

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