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Citizens want railway crossings back on track

A car goes over the BSNF railway tracks between Burrito Express and the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art on East College Boulevard. The other crossing that citizens have called attention to is on East Country Club Road. (Alison Penn Photo)

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In mid-May, a Facebook post in the group ‘Questions, Discussions, and Ideas for Creating a Better Roswell’ garnered more than 60 comments, 30 shares and 31 likes.

The topic? Concerns about the BSNF Railway crossings in Roswell.

Citizens shared stories about avoiding the crossings and wondered who is responsible for maintenance.

BNSF responded to a query from the Daily Record in an emailed statement.

“Repairs are made to crossings as needed,” BNSF public affairs representative Joe Sloan said. “The crossing at East Country Club is scheduled for a rebuild in mid-June. BNSF staff has been in contact with NMDOT (New Mexico Department of Transportation) and local road authorities to discuss crossings (in the area) …

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“Road authorities are responsible for the approaches and typically for the area within a few feet of the track. BNSF works to coordinate with local road authorities when possible.”

Concerned citizen Nicole Vargas said that last fall she was in an accident on the railway crossing on East College Boulevard that has cost her more than $1,000 in new tires and other repairs.

Prior to the accident, Vargas said she won a “pimp my ride” prize — her car was painted and decked out with new rims. Vargas said that even though she was going under the speed limit, her car became stuck in a huge rut right before the tracks and had to be towed out.

Vargas said to file a claim she called BSNF in November 2017 and did not hear back until December. She said the company asked her to be patient and gave her “excuses” until April of this year.

After she had bought new tires and replaced her rims, she said BSNF told her they had not seen damage to any of their tracks.

Sloan said maintenance staff checked the crossing at College Boulevard and found no repairs were needed.

“A crossing can be rough and still safe,” Sloan said. “Crews are working hard … since taking over operations just 16 months ago … If residents have questions or concerns we do respond — www.bnsf.com/contact.”

“It’s going to happen again because that is what happened to me,” Vargas said. Vargas said she posted word of the incident on Facebook and more people shared their stories.

After noticing the rut that caused her accident had been filled up, she asked for maintenance records on the track and was told they are private, Vargas said. She said she wanted to find out when the hole was fixed but could not.

Vargas said she has a baby and wants the railroad to consider the safety of others with precious cargo crossing their tracks.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com. 

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