Halted train disrupts Waterloo community - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Halted train disrupts Waterloo community

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(KWWL) -

Some residents and business owners in Waterloo say they are fed up with a train that stops for hours at a time every single day. They say the train has not only turned their commute into a nightmare, but is now a hazard. 

A Canadian National Railway train passes through Dubuque road in Waterloo.

But it doesn't just pass, it stops on the tracks blocking the crossing of Rooff avenue off of Dubuque road. 

What are supposed to be air brake safety checks by Canadian National Railway have turned into what are being described as long unnecessary stops. 

The train stopped for hours, leaving people waiting with no timetable for when the train will move.

People in Waterloo say it's not only become an inconvenience, but it's a hazard. 

 Beth Kamp lives in a neighborhood off of Dubuque road where the only entrance and exit is through the crossing on Rooff avenue. 

"Throwing on shoes and trying to beat the train," said Kamp.  "I mean it's an ongoing everyday, my life revolves around that train almost."

Kamp finds herself stuck behind a Canadian National Train that stops in this crossing, leaving her waiting anywhere from one to up to three hours. 

"It's very frustrating," said Kamp. "I mean I've been late for work, my husbands been late for work."

She's not alone. Several businesses have no choice but to use the same crossing. If there's a train there, they're just stuck waiting.

Black Hawk Waste is one of the companies. The facility is one of three businesses that have no choice but to use the crossing. 

Black Hawk Waste Operations Manager Mark Lawson says the wait times have gotten increasingly longer in the past year.

"I'm sitting there with a long list of other drivers," said Lawson. "I have a whole bunch of other drivers who are still on the clock. We're still obligated to pay them to sit there and stare at a train. And it's not productive for our company and not helpful to our customers."

Black Hawk Waste, A-Line E.D.S, and residents who live in the neighborhood along with Kamp have tried to contact Canadian National Railway to get some answers. 

"All we get is excuses," said Lawson. "There's never an answer for why the train has to sit there on hours on end. We always get an excuse that something is broke. Something is this, we're waiting for that."

The company responded by giving them an 800-number to call every time they find themselves waiting. 

A-Line E.D.S Safety Manager Gabe Oldfather says he can't remember a day when he hasn't called. 

"Pretty much everyday we have to call," said Oldfather. "Just to log it in to let them know they're blocking the entrance again. It's more than 20 minutes or 15."

At times, the backup is so bad, cars end up overflowing onto the busy Dubuque road, making their commute now dangerous.

"I've left numerous complaints," said Kamp. "They say somebody will get back to you. I've never heard a word." 

Even Waterloo Mayor Hart has been flooded with calls and emails about it being problem. 

"Our trains bring in valuable products into our communities," said Hart. "Waterloo was built on the railroad yards. So that's a challenge. But when it comes to public safety, when it comes to people being able to have access through roads, and through streets. When that becomes a problem or an obstacle, that's something that we really need to take a look at."

Mayor Hart says the city engineer has been in communication with the railway. Despite his efforts, Mayor Hart says no solution has come to the surface. 

KWWL reached out to Canadian National Railway to get some answers.

The Director of Canadian National Public Affairs Jim Feeny responded saying, "CN is aware of the concerns being expressed in Waterloo, and is monitoring the situation. While we endeavor to minimize disruptions to neighboring communities, there are situations where operational necessities may have an effect."

Residents and Mayor Hart all agree their biggest concern is what happens if there's an emergency. 

Mayor Hart says he's willing to sit down and talk with Canadian National Railway to alleviate any problems. 


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