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Signatures needed for petition to change rail crossing near Anslemo

October 24, 2013

A loaded semi crosses the tracks near Anselmo in front of a stopped BNSF train.

The Custer County Corn Growers are asking for your help.

The railroad crossing near The Andersons east of Anselmo is a fatality waiting to happen. It isn't a matter of if, for the Custer County Corn Growers, they say it is a matter of when.

The railroad, Burlington Northern Santé Fe, and the Nebraska Department of Roads want the crossing closed but the residents of the area, with special emphasis on emergency fire and rescue crews, say it needs to remain open for the safety of the community.

"This may not seem like a big deal until your house is on fire, or it is your life hanging in the balance, but 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes is a long time if it is your house or your child!"

The Custer County Board of Supervisors, in response to the area residents have voted to keep the crossing open.

Don Cantrell has been the driving force behind the petition. He has worked hard to find a compromise, but says the discussion have come to an end. Those in position to make a difference say they will not negotiate.

The board of Supervisors paid for the necessary engineering to create a safer crossing, but the NDOR turned down their proposal. The plans relocated the crossing to the west and made it perpendicular to the tracks, and leveled out the road used to cross the tracks. There is not an issue with acquiring the necessary land, the current land owner has said he would do what was needed to help increase the safety of the road.

There is a crossing through the community of Anselmo, but that puts the trucks traveling through the center of the community and the additional distance is 3 ½ miles in and 3 ½ miles out, 7 miles per load. The potential is there for 10,000 million bushels of corn to be taken to the facility in one year. This additional distance would add approximately 70,000 miles to the trucks which in itself is a safety hazard to the community.

Don also said that neither BNSF now NDOR would be responsible for the cost of this change; the Custer County Corn Growers would raise the money.

This plan was presented to BNSF and NDOR Sept. 23, and again said no.

Don said one of the officials at that meeting said “Look at Anselmo; it is like a ghost town. What are there 6 people living there and maybe one kid under the age of 12?”

Cantrell said this is the mentality that we are dealing with through this process.

The Custer County Corn Growers, KCNI/KBBN and the Custer County Chief have come together to create a petition in an attempt to let state and government officials know how we feel about this situation. The public is invited to sign the petition online at the top of this page, just click on the page curl on the upper right hand corner, or you may call the radio station or the Chief at 308-872-2471, or mail a letter to Custer County Chief PO Box 190, Broken Bow, NE 68822, to show your support.

We have until October 31 to get as many signatures of support as possible.

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