Claremore residents, law enforcement not quite on board with how train bill will operate


    Claremore residents, law enforcement not quite on board with how train bill will operate (KTUL)

    CLAREMORE, Okla. (KTUL) -- A new bill that would fine trains for blocking traffic has passed in the Oklahoma House, but if it becomes law, some towns don’t yet have a plan to monitor the offenders.

    If you live in Claremore, you know you’re going to be stopped by a train, but many aren't convinced whether or not this bill, House Bill 2472, will make a difference.

    It’s a familiar sound -- a piercing locomotive horn followed by the thunderous roar of the clanking of steel wheels on steel rail.

    They are sounds Claremore resident Anna Valdon knows too well.

    “They’re inconvenient to say the least when you’re trying to get somewhere within a certain time frame or somewhere," said Valdon.

    The Claremore mother lives near the tracks, one of two main lines that intersect in the middle of town.

    Claremore is one of those towns where the railroad has been there since the beginning.

    “I've grown used to it," said Valdon.

    But she says recently there’s been more trains and railroads admit to it.

    “I've seen it close down a crossing for an hour," said Valdon.

    “I see a lot of people go around the arms; I see a lot of the time when they’ve been sitting for awhile," said Claremore resident Jeannene Elliot.

    Elliott also is frustrated.

    “Sometimes you have to wait as long as ten minutes to get across the track," said Elliott.

    Both the Union Pacific and BNSF will be impacted if House Bill 2472 becomes law.

    “If you live here, it’s something that you know," said Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton.

    The bill would give almost any police officer the ability to ticket and fine railway companies who are stopped at an intersection for more than 10 minutes, a ticket that could cost $10,000.

    Sheriff Walton isn't on board.

    “Time doesn’t permit us to be the train police," said Walton.

    Walton says that many small towns don’t have the time or will to put up the effort to time trains.

    He says he only has so many deputies, and they’re working to keep bigger crimes from happening, not delays on the railroad.

    “If you live here, you understand, and you just plan around it," said Elliott.

    And people aren't convinced this bill would change anything.

    “Who's to say they wont just keep doing and pay the fines," said Valdon.

    The bill would make an exception if the train is stopped for an accident.

    The mayor says a new overpass over the railroad is planned to help alleviate some of the congestion.

    Union Pacific released this statement regarding HB 2472:

    Our goal is to keep trains moving in a safe, efficient manner. When Union Pacific has a crossing issue, we work to find solutions locally with the impacted communities and our Operating department.

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