Gluesenkamp Perez Writes to BNSF Regarding Train Blockages in Skamania County

Jun 03, 2024

Last week, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) sent a letter to the CEO of BNSF Railway regarding reports of blocked railroad crossings in Skamania County, preventing residents from entering or leaving their neighborhood.

Residents of Skamania Landing have raised concerns about both access roads to their community being blocked simultaneously by stopped trains, in some cases for hours. Train blockages have not only led to longer commutes, missed appointments, and tardiness for school – but also to a recent instance in which first responders couldn’t reach a resident experiencing a medical emergency for an hour and a half.

“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. If the trains must be stopped for a longer period, all efforts should be made to keep one of the access points open,” wrote Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez. “I hope your team will work diligently to foster a relationship with local community emergency services and make themselves available in times of life or death. The residents of this community love their neighborhood. They deserve to have the peace of mind that in the event of an emergency, they can receive the urgent care they need.”

Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez and her team have been in touch with community members about how they can best provide support at the federal level. The most affected train crossings in Washington state are blocked on average for two hours per day – with 79 percent having no nearby alternative route and two-thirds being near emergency service providers, increasing the likelihood of impacts on emergency response times. Those experiencing a blocked train crossing can submit a report to the Department of Transportation.

Full text of the letter can be found here.

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