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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

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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