BNSF to repair Eufaula railroad crossing

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Aug. 31—The City of Norman announced it has negotiated with BNSF to repair the railroad crossing at Eufaula Street.

On Thursday morning, Shawn O'Leary, director of Public Works, met with BNSF Roadmaster Frayne Black to negotiate a timetable for the repair.

"Mr. Black committed to a full railroad crossing repair project by BNSF crews during the week of Sept. 18, 2023," said O'Leary. "As always, the City of Norman will assist with traffic control as needed, communications and any repairs to the public street."

O'Leary said the railroad crossing is in "poor condition," but the city has been limited in its ability to make the necessary repairs to ensure driver safety.

"The city placed 'bump' signs in advance of the crossing weeks ago to warn drivers," he said. "The city has no jurisdiction over railroad crossings. In fact, the city is not allowed to work within the BNSF rights-of-way without a permit issued by BNSF which carries with it many obligations."

Greg Heiple, financial adviser for First Allied Securities, said he is concerned about the repair because he has seen cars nearly wreck on account of the disrepair.

"It's the fact the locals know to stop, so they don't ruin or hurt their cars, and other people aren't expecting them to stop on the tracks, and it's causing several rear end accidents," said Heiple. "I've almost been hit twice."

Stephen Holman, Ward 7 councilor, said the city has 17 railroad crossings in a span of 14 miles.

"We are just one city. I know BNSF has a lot of crossings they have to maintain," he said. "I think there is some reasonable expectation they will be maintained in a safe working manner for the trains and vehicle traffic and pedestrian traffic. It can be frustrating how long it takes for a crossing to get repaired."

BNSF's decision to repair the intersection follows an incident in Moore wherein a train became derailed at the South 34th Street crossing. Holman said he wonders whether the derailment influenced BNSF's decision to grant the request after the city had been petitioning the railroad company for one year.

"I think the derailment in Moore caught everyone's attention, especially because it derailed at the crossing. Could something like that happen here?" he said.

The Transcript reached out to BNSF for comment, but a response was not received before press time.

Brian King covers education and politics for The Transcript. Reach him at bking@normantranscript.com.