Bill would fine railroad companies for holding up traffic

    Train passes through Moore, Okla. (KOKH/Connor Hansen)

    Most people who live in the Oklahoma City Metro have probably experienced waiting at a rail crossing for a stopped freight train.

    Now, there's a bill in the state house that proposes fining railroad companies when trains block a street longer than ten minutes up to $10,000.

    The Oklahoma Railroad Association represents companies like Burlington Northern Sante Fe, and says trains often have to stop to let other trains pass in busy areas.

    About the proposed bill, the association says "Oklahoma Railroad Association members are committed to working with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to identify locations where train traffic and vehicular traffic are likely to intersect, and to discuss infrastructure solutions that will reduce conflict between increasing levels of rail freight and vehicular traffic.'

    "If you could fine a train, what would the benefit be?" asked Tom Elmore, the executive director of the North American Transportation Institute. "How would that benefit the state, the people, the economy of Oklahoma? It doesn't do anything."

    Elmore studies railroads and highways in Oklahoma.

    He says there's only one way to solve the congestion, building overpasses and underpasses for the trains.

    "Nobody is going to push them around, including the Oklahoma State Legislature," Elmore said about the railroad companies. "But, if you come to them with a constructive vision of creating overpasses and underpasses in a multi-modal system that these modes can work together and not be in conflict, I expect you're going to get cooperation from them."

    The Oklahoma Railroad Association says, because of the economy, there has been more freight moving through Oklahoma in recent year, causing more train traffic.

    House Bill 2472 has passed the transportation committee, and will go to the state house.

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