Letter to The Editor

By Nancy Street

On Saturday afternoon around 4:00 p.m. on March 7, I left our house near Sutton Park to collect some materials from the Cheney Library. Before I opened the door to leave, I heard a train rumbling around the curve. It got louder as I approached the library, and after I checked materials out of the library, I could hear the continual clicking of the train down First Street, so I headed south west, and met cars backed half way down the street toward the Cheney Federal Credit Union. I continued to Mitchell’s Harvest Moon, and met more cars backed up at that intersection, too. There was still time for me to turn in to the covered picnic table area by the railroad crossing by Harvest Moon, and wait for five more minutes before that train cleared the intersection on its way down to the Tri-Cities. It took over 15 minutes for the train to move out of Cheney.

Supposing there had been a fire or need for emergency vehicles on the other side of the tracks, and the crossing was blocked for 15 minutes. The Spokane Fire Chief stated that a fire doubles every minute, so it doesn’t take long to engulf a home or building.

I am hoping that Cheney residents become alarmed about the increase in rail traffic, and possible greater increase. We can work to prevent more trains from passing through Cheney, and at least improve rail safety. Cheney is considered a “choke point” on the main route for Bakken crude oil trains from North Dakota and coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana, and soon we will have the trains from the new grain terminal being built on Craig Road.
Concerned Cheney students and others are invited to a planning meeting concerning rail traffic through Cheney on Wednesday, March 25 at 7 P.M. at the Cheney Library.