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A long line of railroad cars has been parked for seven years in the Twin Cities suburb of Lakeville, blotting the view from homeowners' backyards.
Some of the cars fill with stagnant water in warm weather, attracting mosquitoes. The cars can also block the neighborhood's only exit when moved from one stretch of track to another, and teenagers often climb up to sunbathe or run down the line of cars, the Star Tribune reported.
"Basically, this is a rail yard," said resident Theresa Johnson. "It's just a matter of time before someone gets hurt or killed."
Railroads are under federal authority, but there aren't safeguards to keep unused cars from staying in one spot. Lessened demand for products such as frac sand has meant freight trains being taken out of commission across the county, and as rail yards fill up, companies turn to unused track like in Lakeville for long-term storage.
Bills were introduced this session by Minnesota's U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. John Kline that would have required rail carriers to have a storage plan approved by the Surface Transportation Board. But the proposals haven't moved out of committee.
Long-term rail car storage has been on the legislative agenda for years in the city of Lakeville, but officials can't do much beyond supporting federal proposals.
"Ideally, we'd like to see them not there at all," said City Administrator Justin Miller. "But even if there was a time limit, I think that would be a good first step."
The track in Lakeville was at one point targeted for a potential county greenway. It's operated by Lakeville-based Progressive Rail, and the company's president, Dave Fellon, declined to comment. But he told the newspaper in 2012 that a sluggish economy was keeping the cars parked.
This article first appeared on www.chron.com
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