BNSF sues Oklahoma Corporation Commission, cities over blocked crossing citations

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The BNSF Railway Company filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday challenging the new Oklahoma Blocked Crossing Statute that allows railroad companies to be fined up to $1,000 for blocking crossings for more than ten minutes. In the lawsuit, BNSF specifically names Edmond and Davis as the two cities it has received citations from. “Since there are multiple defendants, our city attorney will be working with the state to figure out how we proceed with this,” City of Edmond Public Information Officer Casey Moore told News 4. BNSF also names the individual Corporation Commissioners in the lawsuit because the Corporation Commission is in charge of informing citations for the new train law. We did reach out to the commission for comment, but we were told the commission can’t comment on ongoing litigation. In the lawsuit, BNSF says it’s challenging the Oklahoma Blocked Crossing Statute because “the Oklahoma Blocked Crossing Statute is preempted under the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act.”
BNSF also told News 4 it doesn’t typically comment on legal matters, but did send us this statement the Oklahoma Railroad association made after the new law was passed.
Oklahoma railroad operators are committed to working with communities to solve blocked crossing issues on a case-by-case basis by reviewing operating procedures, train speed, customer needs and other factors associated with safe and efficient rail service. The safety of our employees and the public is paramount as we fulfill our mission to support the economy of Oklahoma and the nation. It is unfortunate that Oklahoma lawmakers have chosen to enact a policy that does not promote collaborative solutions.
The City of Edmond says it’s actually been working with BNSF to find solutions to prevent blocked crossings. “We have been working with BNSF to try to come to a long term solution here in Edmond,” Moore said.  “What that looks like is potentially working with them to double-track a different area.” Edmond says it has an agreement with BNSF to split the cost of a study to assess adding tracks to an area of town that would allow trains to stop in the city limits without blocking a crossing.

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