(Farmington, Minnesota February 2, 2017)
Local police were responding to reoccurring crossing gate malfunctions at the intersection of Union Pacific Railroad tracks and Elm Street (old State Highway 50) in Farmington, MN, this past week. Farmington is a community with a population of more than 22,000 in Dakota County, MN, directly south of St. Paul, MN. The former Soo Line Railroad tracks where this crossing is located accommodate a daily average of 10 UPRR trains, which can operate at a maximum allowable speed of 40 mph. According to the Federal Railroad Administrations railroad crossing database, two prior accidents which occurred before the crossing gates were installed, including one fatality.
The wet, spring-like weather Farmington has experienced this past month has been causing the crossing gates on Elm Street, just west of Second Street, to malfunction occasionally, reported News Writer Jennifer Steichen of The Farmington Independent.
When queried about the problem by Ms. Steichen, Farmington Police Dept. Sgt. Lee Hollatz, who was out directing traffic away from the crossing Wednesday as he responded to the situation, said that the Farmington Police Dept. has received a number of calls to report gates that are stuck in the down position with no train approaching, according to the newspaper.
Sgt. Hollatz said This is the worst type of weather for that, adding That wet, slushy snow causes the gates to short out. Reportedly, Sgt. Hollatz told the news writer, as he directed traffic as the gates went up and down intermittently that he believes Union Pacific Railroad plans to address the problem this spring.
When reached for comments UPRR Corporate Communications Director Raquel Espinoza, stated, If we get enough signal calls about an issue, we can look into it.