TRAIN TENSION: Access to flooded Hastings neighborhood blocked - KMSP-TV

TRAIN TENSION: Access to flooded Hastings neighborhood blocked

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The rising water is raising tensions and safety concerns in Hastings because floodwaters have left just one road open to a residential area, and residents say trains frequently block the only route they can use.

How long is too long to wait depends on who you ask, but Harold Christenson told Fox 9 News he was stuck for 45 minutes while he waited for a stopped train to start moving again on Monday. He's been fighting Canadian Pacific about the trains stopping at the crossing since he moved in 20 years ago, but Mike Lawrence said he's learned to live with it.

"It's beyond aggravations," Lawrence said. "Oh, 2nd Street is closed -- go to 1st. now, 1st Street is under water."

When Police Chief Bryan Schafer took over the department last fall, he agreed that there is a problem at the intersection. This week, those concerns magnified because emergency vehicles could have difficulty reaching the east side of town with a train in the way. In fact, after calling the railroad himself and not getting a response, Schafer saw first-hand how long he'd have to wait to reach any of the 70 homes on the other side on the tracks.

"In all, the crossing was closed for about 10 minutes," he explained. "That's a concern because when we talk about life-or-death situations -- maybe a person having a heart attack or a person down like that -- time is of the essence."

A spokesperson for the railroad said in a statement that they take the concerns seriously, especially at such a sensitive time due to flooding. The company insists it is doing everything possible not to block the crossing, and said that crew members can split the train so traffic can proceed until the situation is resolved.

With water still rising and expected to keep area roads closed for weeks, Schafer said he wants any and all delays documented. In fact, he's encouraging homeowners who wait too long to call police.

"It's their safety," he said. "If they believe it's being blocked and it's blocked for too long, then it's blocked for too long."

Fox 9 News crews were at the scene for about 7 hours on Thursday, and although no back-ups or delays lasting more than 2 or 3 minutes were observed, it was clear that as cameras were watching Canadian Pacific, they were watching too.

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