SPRINGFIELD — People who live along a railroad say they don’t want the extra noise or the inconvenience of an addition near their property.
This is all taking place just a couple miles east of Springfield city limits, just south of Sunshine along Farm Road 193.
The plan is for BNSF to construct a second rail line roughly two miles long, parallel to what exists.
Many residents say this will affect their property value, and quality of life, but BNSF spokesperson Andy Williams disagrees.
“There has been a lot of misinformation about this project that has been published on various websites and flyers that is simply inaccurate,” says Williams.
Williams says a stretch of side track will be constructed, saying it will allow trains to pass each other and ease the flow of train traffic, starting near the corner of Farm Road 193 and Farm Road 148, stretching east.
Some who live in this area say this is a major inconvenience, like John Hopkins, his house sits about 100 yards away from the current railroad.
Hopkins says the every day operations of an additional line will take a toll on the area’s physical makeup, as well as property values.
“There is going to be a lot more noise, there is going to be a lot more trains, that are going to be screeching and banging and clanging when they take off, they’ll be sitting here idling a lot,” Hopkins says.
Andy Williams with BNSF counters that claim.
“That is simply not the case. There will be no increase in freight traffic, this is merely to accommodate traffic that exists,” Williams says.
Hopkins say their area is not where this should be happening.
“This is not the right place for this project. This needs to be moved further out east into the county,” says Hopkins.
Williams says that is not feasible.
“If we were to move it to the east like some folks have suggested, it is simply not an operational benefit there. We need these things spaced out so different trains can pass each other in different locations. Other locations to the east impact water. We would have to literally reroute streams,” Williams says.
Around 50 people attended an informational public meeting at the Springfield Fire Station #12 community room, many of whom were residents along that area.
Randy McDowell, who lives nearby, claims drastic measures could be taken by BNSF in order to complete the project against residents wishes.
“We are not interested in selling a portion of property to them, and they have already said they are going to take it by condemnation proceedings,” McDowell says.
BNSF will be building an underpass for residents to get in and out, but neighbors have concerns about that.
Another neighbor, Gary Mehlhorn, is concerned about the effect on nature. The rail line has already taken trees out along the rail road for about a mile. He is also concerned about a nearby creek.
“Where they want to put an underpass, they’re going to ruin a valley where the creek goes under the road, so that has been a disheartening thing,” Mehlhorn says.
Mehlhorn also says flooding could be a concern.
“I don’t know what will happen to that creek pass if we get enough flooding. There is flooding, and the culverts plug up. If that ever plug up, that is the only way we have to get across,” Mehlhorn says.
BNSF says this project could take 6-9 months to complete when construction starts, but residents are trying to prevent it from starting at all.
Residents already have a petition going to stop it.