HEARTLAND FLOOD: Big concerns for small Iowa town

MISSOURI VALLEY, Iowa (AP) - Drivers coming off of Old Lincoln Highway in Missouri Valley, Iowa are occasionally running into a long line of problems.

Specifically, a long line of Union Pacific trains.

One driver told 6 News they counted 50 cars as they headed south on Old Lincoln Highway.

Missouri Valley is one of the main switching stations for Union Pacific.

Residents said trains cross over 6th St. about every 20 minutes. The backups can be long because of extra traffic in the area due to portions of Interstate 29 being closed from flooding.

One driver says he was stuck while engineers switched, and during the switch another train came.

“They let another train go by before they ever took off, I was here over half an hour this afternoon," he said.

Missouri Valley Mayor, Shawn Kelly, has been receiving some complaints.

“There’s been a lot of complaints, people frustrated with the amount of time it takes to get across the tracks when trains are stopped, of course," Kelly said. “Unfortunately right now with the increased traffic coming up on 183 with 29 being closed more people are being affected by it.”

The Seyler family is taking a more positive approach.

“See the trains rolling the economy is good,” Donald Seyler said. “All our lives we’ve lived here. I’ve lived here 71 years. Our son-in-law works for the railroad and they pay his salary.”

Mayor Kelly says the city is working with Union Pacific.

“We’re trying to collect a lot of data as far as traffic volume backup goes over the intersections, how long they are being blocked, how often they are being blocked and so forth. U.P. is working to collect a bunch of that data as well as the city of Missouri Valley,” Kelly said.

Some people questioned why engineers don’t switch at another intersection – where it is less busy. Kelly said it's because there are a lot of rules and regulations that they have to follow in order to switch conductors and train personnel.

While it may appear more trains are traveling through Missouri Valley, Kelly says the same amount of trains are coming through the area, there is just more congestion with the amount of traffic traveling into Missouri Valley off Old Lincoln Highway.

6 News reached out to Union Pacific and got this statement from their Senior Director, Raquel Espinoza. She responded with:

“As you know, we've dealt with serious weather issues in the Midwest. The catastrophic flooding across our network caused damages in seven rail corridors, causing rail shipments to come to a complete stop. Our crews have worked around the clock to make repairs and have opened five of the seven corridors. You may be seeing some of the backed up traffic is moving on these lines. We are working to move the shipments as efficiently as possible and appreciate your patience.”