Return of the railroad raises safety concerns - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Return of the railroad raises safety concerns

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Barron (WQOW)- Frac sand is breathing new life into an old railroad.  But with that come concerns about children's safety.

"We need to make our children safe, period," says Barron resident Joan Bradford.

After 13 years in hibernation, the railroad is back in Barron County.  Canadian National Railways spent $35 million to fix up the tracks so that it could ship frac sand for Superior Silica Sands.  But the return has Bradford concerned about children being too close to the tracks.

"There's going to be a lot of adjustments for a lot of people," Bradford explains.  "But children are children and they are attracted to trains."

"We have the kids walking down the tracks over to the central office and the cut over, taking a shortcut," points out Barron Mayor David Vruwink.

Bradford says she's concerned because the tracks are located so close to the middle school and this is also a very popular area for walkers as well.  Because of that, Bradford would like the city to look into all of its options when it comes to safety.  And that includes possibly building a walking bridge over the tracks.

"The fact that the railroad runs right in front of the school, I think that it's our responsibility to do everything there is to make it as safe as we can for them," says Bradford.

But the city doesn't know if a walking bridge is the answer.

"There are a couple of factors there.  Cost would be one thing to look at," Vruwink explains.  "The other is students will always take the path of least resistance.  Maybe for a novelty, they would go over it a few times.  After that, they would certainly walk around because it would be easier.  But we are concerned and it's going to take a while for people to get used to the trains coming through."

Trains run two to four times a day, but there's no set schedule.  Operation Lifesaver went around to Barron schools Monday to talk with kids about how dangerous trains can be.

For those interested in hearing more about safety along the rail lines, the city council will be discussing it at Tuesday's meeting.

That meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Barron City Hall.

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