The other day on a nice sunshiny afternoon I was spending the better part of an hour sitting in the Walmart parking lot staring at the train that was blocking all the access points to and from the shopping center. As usual, my thoughts included what an inconvenience this was for the shoppers in the area, but most important, what would happen if there was a medical emergency in the shopping area and an aid car and EMT personnel could not access the area.
I am aware that the City of Aberdeen, the railroad and others have this problem on their list of problem areas. Overcrossings and undercrossings are probably cost prohibitive and naturally the railroad does not want to interrupt their level of service with solutions that have a negative impact on their business operations. However, if someone was put in peril due to these frequent closures, the railroad, City of Aberdeen and others would probably be facing major lawsuits.
In looking at the surrounding area while pondering the dilemma, I noticed that the rail line support trestle between Walmart and the Guest House Suites is gradually elevated as it heads for the bridge on the river. The support pilings appear to be spaced adequately so that a small vehicle could access under the rail line. A brief outline on a possible solution is as follows:
A. Secure exclusive emergency easements in favor of the City Fire Department from the railroad, Walmart, Guest House Suites, Knudson Tug Boats and any other intervening owners. The easement would be for use of emergency vehicles only.
B. Build a simple access road across the properties and under the rail line.
C. Install security gates on the roadway where it crosses under the rail line, and the railroad and the Fire Department would be the only ones with the access codes for the gates.
D. Some type of emergency lighting could be called for in case of night time emergencies.
E. The emergency access point would be signed accordingly.
This proposal appears to be relatively simple and low cost and would not jeopardize the railroad’s interests, while providing an interim solution to the problem until a permanent plan can be put together.