Posted: March 28, 2014
I remember as a kid, I used to enjoy counting the number of cars on a train as our family waited patiently for the train to pass. But ever since I started reading articles about the increasing amount of train activity in the region, it seems like I pay more attention to the noise level and annoyance that trains have become.
I've thought about what options residents and municipalities have with regard to the hyperactive rail activity and noise pollution and have come to the conclusion that there really isn't much we can do about the problem.
At least three times a week, I am stopped in a long line of vehicles waiting for a train to pass. Many times, myself and others get inpatient and make a U-turn and find a different way to get to our destination. Unfortunately, in parts of the City of Chippewa Falls, there is no easy way to get around a standing or slow-moving train. That is the most frustrating part to me and I'm not sure there is anything that can be done to avoid the problem.
However, with regard to the areas in the Chippewa Valley where there are no rail crossing lights, I would like to offer a suggestion: Make the rail companies pay a good portion of the $300,000-$500,000 it costs to make train crossings more visible.
When Warren Buffet started investing in rail companies about five years ago, it's obvious he knew what he was doing. In fact, according to the recent issue of the Kiplinger Letter, rail companies are becoming great investments because the train conglomerates are making huge sums of money.
It's not just the region's sand frac industry that is creating the train buzz either. The growing homebuilding sector, along with the appliance and natural gas industries, are creating the need for more rail lines and consequently more train cars.
Since federal laws protect the rail industry and the related noise problem based on the need for safety, then it seems to me that rail companies can pay to make the crossings safer.
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