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Up, down RR crossing arms in Enders aggravate drivers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 14 April 2011 16:09

By Jan Schultz

The Imperial Republican

Chase County Sheriff Kevin Mueller believes better communication with NKC Railroad will allow his office to handle crossing arm problems that delay traffic along roadways in the county.

Problems last Tuesday, April 5, with the crossing arms in Enders caused a few hours of frustration for drivers and the sheriff’s office.

About 2:10 p.m. last Tuesday, the sheriff’s office received a report that the crossing arms at Enders, where the tracks intersect Highway 6, were down with no train in sight.

Sheriff Mueller said the railroad was contacted, and the sheriff’s office was told there would be someone there to fix them.

About seven minutes after the first call from the public, another call came in saying the arms were up. An hour and a half later, however, another caller reported they were down again.

After another contact with the railroad, the sheriff’s office learned they were having trouble reaching their maintenance person, but “would have them enroute.”

However, more calls were fielded by the sheriff’s office between 4:50 and 5:30 p.m. that the arms remained down. It wasn’t until about 6:20 p.m., more than four hours after the first call, that the sheriff believes they were finally fixed.

Incidents like this are rare, Sheriff Mueller said, referring to his past experiences with the railroad.

Normal response time is about 30 minutes, he said.

It was later learned that the maintenance man, who lives in McCook, never received the call from the railroad’s main office about the problems in Enders, Sheriff Mueller said.

If his office had known it would take that long, the sheriff said they would have tried to put a plan in place to divert traffic through Enders, past the lake’s boat docks and back onto the highway.

“I know that this is very frustrating for the general public and that some people felt we did not do enough to try and alleviate the traffic problem,” he said.

“But, unfortunately, we were under the assumption this would be taken care of rather quickly,” Sheriff Mueller said.

Now, the sheriff’s office has the maintenance man’s cell phone number in addition to the railroad’s main 800-number.

In future situations after a call is made to the headquarters, Sheriff Mueller said his dispatchers have also been instructed to call the maintenance man’s cell phone to confirm he got the message.

“If there is going to be a considerable amount of time before he can get here, we now have a plan in place to divert traffic,” Sheriff Mueller said.

It’s not recommended that law officers wave drivers through crossing arms in these situations due to federal rules and liability concerns, he added.

That’s why traffic will be diverted in and around Enders instead.