BONNER COUNTY, Idaho – Imagine not being able to leave your own driveway for hours at a time, or imagine coming home from work and not being able to get inside your home. Why? Because that same driveway is blocked – by a stalled train.
That is the case for some people living in North Idaho. Viewers reached out to KREM 2 News and said the trains will be stopped at crossings for hours at a time – effectively trapping homeowners.
Trains can certainly look daunting when they are moving fast, but when it is actually stopped dead in their tracks – the real horror could begin. As the Burlington Northern trains halt, so to do the routines of people out here.
Neighbors Paul Pickett and Bill Hardy had no problem sharing their frustrations with KREM 2 News about a particular crossing off of Highway 95 south of Cocolalla.
“A couple weeks ago, I came home from Sandpoint and sat out here for three hours waiting to get to my house,” Pickett said.
Neighbors said it was not always like this. Trains would only pass by every few weeks. Now, trains are coming through several times a day and stopping plenty of times blocking the crossing.
This is not the only part of the county this is happening in either. Bonner County Commissioner Glen Bailey said he has called a meeting with BNSF to discuss this. He said he is very concerned with this calling it a “public safety issue.”
“When you see a train coming, you race the train to get across because you could be stuck here for hours otherwise,” Hardy said.
So why is this happening?
We reached out to BNSF and here is what we found.
According to federal laws, train crews are only able to work a certain amount of hours before they have to swap out with another crew. Sometimes when these trains stop, that is what is happening.
Other times, trains could be held due to other trains on other parts of the track.
In a statement, BNSF said they are redoubling their efforts to pull in additional resources, both in terms of people and equipment, to reduce delays and keep trains moving.
“We are also redoubling our efforts with our team to emphasize the need to keep crossings clear when we have to hold trains,” the statement read.
For now, neighbors like Pickett are wondering when those efforts from the railroad will come through. He said all of this is impacting the way he is able to live his life.
“The anger, the rage, even depression, because we know we’re helpless,” he said.