Nebraska Commission files complaint against railroad for Grand Island blocked crossing

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 3:17 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KSNB) - After months of complaints and hearings, a Nebraska state agency is taking on three railroads to order them to stop blocking a railroad crossing in northern Grand Island.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission on Tuesday, June 30, issued an Order releasing its findings and closing the investigation into the blocking of railroad crossings in Hall County (PI-228) and directed the PSC Transportation Department to file a formal complaint against Burlington Norther Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad, Nebraska Central Railroad (NCRR) and Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR).

The formal complaint follows an investigation by the Commissions’ Transportation Department and a February 5, Commission hearing held in Grand Island, Hall County, in which Commissioners heard several hours of testimony from both concerned citizens and railroad representatives.

“We heard very compelling testimony from citizens whose daily lives are greatly affected and in some instances safety is jeopardized by the blocking of these railroad crossings,” said Commission Chair Mary Ridder. “While the railroads disputed many of the allegations, they were unable to produce data to support their position.”

Following the hearing, BNSF was to provide data to the Commission related to particular dates and times of observed blockages which they did not agree with. The Commission was later notified by BNSF that it does not keep daily train stoppage data and any attempt to reconstruct such data would be too burdensome.

The Commission had hoped that the three railroads could reach a solution to the blocked crossings. However, the parties could not reach an agreement.

Commissioner Ridder said, “Without a resolution by the parties involved, we are left with no other option than to make our decision based upon the evidence and testimony presented to us and proceed with filing a formal complaint.”

A formal complaint for violation of Commission Rule 002.09D will be drafted by the PSC Transportation Department and sent to BNSF, CNRR and UPRR. Upon receipt of the formal complaint the parties will have 20 days to respond to the PSC before any additional proceedings are determined.

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