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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Dangerous rail crossings topic of Council Bluffs town hall

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Monday, June 24, 2024   

Representatives from Union Pacific Railroad will attend a town hall meeting in Council Bluffs tomorrow night to hear about the so-called "triangle of death" being created by the alignment and traffic on some of its tracks.

The chronically blocked tracks are frustrating to residents but also potentially deadly, some residents said. Council Bluffs used to be home to eight rail companies. They've consolidated to four, but there are still 48 crossings in town and people in about 50 homes are trapped by tracks on two sides.

Andrew Whitehill, a resident of Council Bluffs, said he sees drivers every day create dangerous situations in a residential area where children are playing.

"'I can't afford to get stuck at this train,'" Whitehill said drivers are thinking. "They'll see the train coming and will then drive a few blocks down and try to speed past it to beat it, because they're not trying to get trapped in the triangle."

It is more of an issue now because as rail carriers have consolidated, the trains making cross-country trips are longer, stretching well beyond the rail yard and onto tracks in the city, blocking crossings. The town hall is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the police department building. Union Pacific has said it is committed to a fix.

Matt Walsh, mayor of Council Bluffs, said Union Pacific representatives expressed surprise over the blocked tracks when he met with them but added the company is willing to make changes, including by installing new technology.

"They can send a signal to a beacon, to alert people that the tracks are blocked," Walsh explained.

While the fix could help keep people from getting into the triangle in the first place, it does not do anything to help those who are already there. Union Pacific has told the mayor the company will schedule trains differently to avoid having both sets of tracks occupied at once and a new yard master will make sure it happens.


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