NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – People south of Belen in Jarales said they are used to sitting in their cars and waiting for trains to pass. While help is on the way in the form of a bridge over the tracks, commutes might get a little worse before they get better.
Drivers who use Jarales Road to commute in Valencia County have rising concerns over increased rail traffic and are in desperate need of a solution.
One resident expressed frustration because they live so close to the tracks. Some others explained delays along the state road are a round-the-clock occurrence, and when the rail crossing arms come down and with trains coming and going in both directions, there’s no way of knowing how long they’ll be stuck in their tracks.
“It’s constant. Sometimes, we are sitting here waiting for 30 minutes for a train, a stopped train.”
According to New Mexico’s Department of Transportation, around 90 trains cross the tracks daily. Some are up to two miles long, making the long wait an increased public safety risk.
“There have been times in the past where our first responders are attempting to get into the Jarales area and then get stopped by a train,” said Valencia County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Joseph Rowland.
NMDOT and BNSF agree, saying a new crossing is needed. As BNSF plans to expand rail yard operations with eight additional tracks, the DOT is set to construct an overpass bridge, requiring a closure at Jarales Road from Trujillo down to just south of Gallegos. While drivers may have to pack some patience, they said all good things take time.
NMDOT said construction will begin May 1 and expect to have the bridge done by late next year or early 2025.