Fort Collins investigates stuck railroad crossing arms during snowstorms

Railroad officials blame de-icer

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The City of Fort Collins is working with railroad officials to figure out why railroad crossing arms all over the city are going down for no reason, blocking traffic and frustrating neighbors.

"Seven times (Tuesday) that thing went down," said Toby Duran outside the auto shop where he works near College Avenue and Cherry Street. "There's sometimes traffic backed up from this all the way down to about Washington."

It's gotten so bad, he said, he sometimes holds up the crossing arms himself for cars to pass under.

"Or else, sometimes it's 20-25 minutes before someone comes out here  to fix the problem," said Duran.

"Obviously, we want a solution. Nobody wants to be tied up in traffic with the railroad gates down," said Larry Schneider, Fort Collin's Street Superintendent.

In the last month, the city has tracked problems at six crossings.

This week, they had a conference call with railroad officials to talk about the issue.

Union Pacific  Spokesman Mark Davis told 7NEWS that de-icer may be to blame.
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"It happens everywhere -- it's a historic problem," said Davis. "When you have a high salt content, it can conduct electricity and set off the warning devices."

Davis said wet weather, rain and snow, can have the same effect.

Schneider said they have reminded drivers not to spray de-icer within 50 feet of railroad tracks, and they are waiting to see if that helps address the issue.

"Still, cars can track de-icer across, too," said Schneider.

Duran said he is skeptical that the problem is the de-icer. He blames the railroads.

"There's a problem in that box across the street because they go down a lot even in the summer time," said Duran. "This has been going on for two years now."