Wants more railway crossings

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A member of the Olds & District Community Policing Advisory Society has expressed frustration over an incident in which a train blocked three crossings in Olds.

Fred May told the committee that when that occurs, there should be another route to enable traffic to get across the tracks.

Traffic was tied up for at least 45 minutes to an hour on Jan. 14 when a motorist outran a train, forcing the train to stop. When it did stop, it blocked all three train track crossings in the town.

“Now that is supposed to be a no-no,” May said, expressing concern that such traffic tie-ups could make it difficult for ambulances to get people to the hospital as well as fire trucks or other emergency services to get to their destinations.

Committee member Wayne Milaney, representing Bowden, said there is a “safety valve,” an access at the Richardson Pioneer elevator by Highway 2A.

“Yeah, but that’s too far north,” May said.

Milaney said that’s better than having to detour too far to the south.

“That’s the way I come in every morning so I don’t have to line up for the train,” Milaney said.

May said the elevator option is not a good one because it’s too awkward.

Olds chief administrative officer Norm McInnis says the town “does not have any immediate plans to add any additional crossings at this time.”

He said situations like the Jan. 14 incident in which the train had to make an emergency stop are “sometimes unavoidable and can be planned for in operational/emergency plans.”

“If the three at grade crossings in town are blocked, there are crossings both north and south of town.

“Dispatch can hopefully route an ambulance accordingly if necessary,” he said.

Alberta Transportation assistant director of communications Bob McManus said only the Highway 27 (46th Street) crossing is in the province’s jurisdiction.

“There currently are no plans for upgrades at this crossing,” he said.

Salem Woodrow of CP Rail did not address the possibility of creating more crossings.

She did provide this statement regarding ensuring that emergency vehicles can get through.

“Canadian Railway Operating Rules (CROR) establish that any movement of a train cannot stand still on a public grade crossing for a period longer than five minutes, when vehicular or pedestrian traffic requires passage.

“When emergency vehicles require passage, employees must co-operate to clear public crossings at grade and private crossings as quickly as possible.

“If a train is required to stop which results in the train blocking a crossing for more than five minutes, CP Police will contact local first responders as soon as possible so they can make arrangements for alternate routes.”

dcollie@olds.greatwest.ca

“You’ve got to go in, you’ve got to go back south, you’ve got to scoot around. It is a way of doing it, but it sure as hell is not the best way.” FRED MAYOLDS & DISTRICT COMMUNITY POLICING ADVISORY SOCIETY MEMBER

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Doug Collie

Doug Collie joined the Olds Albertan in 2014 as editor. He covers municipal politics, news, community events, arts and entertainment and sports happening in and around Bowden and Olds.