By Congressman Ron Kind
Over the last few weeks I have had the privilege of traveling Wisconsin’s 3rd district and holding a number of listening sessions to hear directly from Wisconsinites on issues that are important to local communities. One of the issues that people in almost every meeting brought up was rail safety and the negative impact that increased rail traffic is having on communities.
Recently we have had many more trains coming through western and central Wisconsin largely due to the increase in Bakken oil coming out of North Dakota. I am working to put an end to the many derailments that have taken place across the country and make sure we don’t see one at home. To fix the problem we need a comprehensive approach to increasing rail safety by monitoring speeds, upgrading rail cars, and having greater disclosure of content that is being transported.
I also heard a lot of frustration from people in communities where trains are blocking access, intersections, and cutting off neighborhoods. That is intolerable. I have reached out to the Federal Railroad Authority to ensure the railroads are acting like good neighbors. People should not be cut off from their schools, jobs, and community because railroads are parking trains where they are not supposed to be. I have also met with community leaders and first responders who are concerned about the safety of people if we need to get an ambulance or fire truck across a blocked grade.
It is clear that more work needs to be done. The railroads need to work with our communities back home and be good neighbors and work through the problems, and if they don’t Congress will be forced to intervene with sanctions and penalties. I will continue working to increase rail safety and find solutions to the problems we are see across the district.