Perez asks railroad to keep crossings open

U.S. Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Skamania, recently sent a letter to Katie Farmer, president and CEO of BNSF Railway, about reports of blocked crossings in Perez’s home county.
Residents of Skamania Landing have voiced concerns about access roads being blocked by stopped trains, sometimes for hours.
The trains prevent residents from entering or leaving the neighborhood. It also means emergency responders can’t get to patients. In a recent incident, first responders couldn’t get to a resident experiencing a medical emergency for more than an hour and a half, according to a Monday news release from Perez.
“We must ensure that a functional, efficient rail system doesn’t come at the expense of rural communities. … I hope BNSF will consider limiting the amount of time that trains spend blocking both access points to the neighborhood,” Perez said in the May 30 letter. “If the trains must be stopped for a longer period, all efforts should be made to keep one of the access points open.”
In the letter, Perez also said she hoped railroad officials would work to foster a better relationship with emergency services in Skamania County.
Around the state, the most affected train crossings are blocked, on average, two hours per day, according to Perez’s office. About 80 percent of those crossings have no alternative routes available, and approximately 67 percent are near emergency service providers, increasing the likelihood of impacts on emergency response times.
“While these delays can be an annoyance, tragically, they can also be a matter of life or death,” Perez wrote.
Anyone experiencing a blocked train crossing can submit a report to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration at
— Shari Phiel
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