IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - One of the nation's largest railroad companies wants to help the city of Blackfoot find solutions to its safety and traffic concerns at railroad crossings.
The company wants to work with Bingham County Officials to find solutions to the problems right now. Union Pacific Railroad said it is in support of building a railroad underpass or overpass, but it could be a 10-year project.
Bingham County Officials and Union Pacific Railroad officials met in Blackfoot early Friday to discuss solutions. Mayor Paul Loomis said it's the start of a partnership between the county and Union Pacific Railroad. He also said there will be many more meetings with the railroad company to discuss the issue.
"Growth in our industry and growth in traffic does lend itself to having those crossings blocked. Union Pacific is aware of that and we share some of that sensitivity, which is why we welcome the dialogue with the city," said Dan Harbeke, director of public affairs for Union Pacific Railroad.
The railroad company said it will talk with county officials regularly to address the concerns, but right now the company is looking at its daily operations.
"What Union Pacific has done is taking a look at our operations to try to alleviate some of those blocked crossings. We are sensitive to the morning rush, the school and the afternoon rush," said Harbeke.
While the railroad company looks at operations, the city of Blackfoot is looking at the possibility of adding sensors to railroad crossings.
"In the next couple of months we will try to identify technology that will help us. Either sensors or video sensors where we could experiment. We would probably set up one or two crossings with the sensors to see how it would work," Loomis said.
Loomis said studying the technology could take six to nine months. A conference call is already scheduled with Union Pacific Railroad next week to start the planning phase.
Union Pacific Railroad said the overpass in Pocatello is an example of the city partnering with the railroad company. Officials said they hope for a similar solution in Blackfoot.
The city of Blackfoot submitted a federal application grant in April to study what it would take to build an underpass or over pass. The grant is for $1 million.