Closing 31st Street? Sioux City Considers BNSF Proposal

Trains blocking intersections and road has been a problem for years in Sioux city.

But now one business owner says he's caught the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad breaking the law on tape, by blocking the intersection of 31st Street and Old Highway 75 for longer than 10 minutes, which is illegal in Iowa.

The city is considering an offer to close that intersection for good.

Back on July 14th, security camera footage catches the train parked here starting at 8:24 PM. It then sits in the intersection for two hours. The footage cuts off around 10:31 PM, with the train still in the intersection.

Dave Bernstein, owner of Quick Pick Self Service Auto Parts says it's been an ongoing problem for years now.

"I think part of it is to try and force, you know, bully there way in to a change in public habit," Bernstein said.

Because it's illegal to block the intersection for longer than 10 minutes, BNSF has offered the city $500,000 to permanently close the intersection.

"If they close the intersection, it ends up being an extra mile and a quarter, half a mile north, and then a quarter mile over, and then a half a mile back around the railroad to get to those businesses like ours," said Bernstein. "We're open to hearing plans the city might put on the table, but certainly would like a lot of specifics and the ability to be able to be apart of the dialog and what's going to happen."

"It would be nice that our clients would easily be ale to access our building instead of having to go all the way around or at least having a couple different ways of getting here," said SignPro Graphic Designer Dave Widrowicz.

We reached out the BNSF to get its thoughts; in a statement they said:

"BNSF Railway has a program where we work with communities to close at-grade crossings. We've had ongoing discussions with the city on 31st Street. At this point, those discussions are still underway."

The City sent out a public meeting notice, in it, the city claims BNSF has been requesting the closure since the early 90's.

The city is holding a public meeting on this situation tomorrow at 4 PM at the City of Sioux City Field Services building: 1723 18th St Sioux City, IA 51105