Jarales residents concerned about access to town
May 25, 2018 10:15 PM
JARALES, N.M. – New Mexicans know just how many trains run through Belen. They call it the Hub City for a reason.
But as the frequency and volume of those trains have picked up over the years, residents in a neighboring town fear they may lose a major thoroughfare.
"We're seeing double the load of train traffic," said one concerned citizen, Miguel Hidalgo. "There are three tracks now. We've heard that there are plans to have five tracks, to put two more additional tracks."
That would leave the area of Jarales caught in the middle of progress and a handful of problems. When those crossing gates come down, residents living nearby say they can get stuck in their car for as long as 45 minutes to an hour.
Safety and the right people being able to reach emergencies have also become a major issue.
"It's law enforcement. It's the fire department. It's rescue. And I’m seeing major, major complaints with regards to response times because we can't through the trains," said Candi Gebler with the Valencia County Sheriff's Office.
That's all with State Road 109 still accessible once those gates rise again, but there's talk the BNSF Railway Company could cut that crossing point altogether. According to statements from BNSF and the New Mexico Department of Transportation, no final decision has been made.
Residents gathered at a public meeting Friday night hope that both they and the railroad win in the end. A petition has been started to ask for that overpass and to oppose the closure of the crossing. It has about 1,500 signatures.
The next step is asking for funding, something BNSF says is not sought out by its company. There was a representative from Sen. Tom Udall’s office present at Friday's meeting, saying the office is willing to help get federal funds.
Updated: May 25, 2018 10:15 PM
Created: May 25, 2018 10:02 PM
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