Speaking of impossible legislative dreams (see previous post): Here’s another one, though very serious, about railroad safety.

Rep. Jay Richardson (D-Fort Smith) is lead sponsor of HB 1961 to limit the length of railroad trains.


The powerful rail lobby isn’t likely to cheer passage of this late-arriving bill. But it’s worth a mention. We mentioned similar legislation in Missouri in an earlier Arkansas Blog item about problems caused throughout Arkansas by trains blocking highway crossings for hours at a time.  That item included a letter from Gerald Sale III, representative of a railroad workers union, who explained how reduced workforces and longer trains have contributed to the crossing problems and other safety issues.

He comments in notifying me about Richardson’s legislation:


Trains growing in length have become a menace and endanger public safety. The arrival of longer trains has resulted in blocked crossing across our state. These crossing blockages are happening more frequently and for much lengthier periods. Longer trains impact all areas of our State both rural and urban. The safety of our communities and maintaining our first responder’s ability to protect the public should remain our priority. 

The bill is on a committee agenda next week. With about two weeks of work left, odds of passing new legislation at this stage are long.