ARANSAS PASS, Texas — Union Pacific Railroad recently started reconditioning the railroad tracks in Aransas Pass.
In mid-April, trains returned to the area for the first time in more than a decade.
The trains are back in the area, and will continue to travel through Aransas Pass as they are returning to Rockport Terminals.
Since it has been so long since trains have frequented the Aransas Pass tracks, APPD chief Eric Blanchard is concerned drivers have become accustomed to the inactive tracks.
“You become numb to the tracks being there, to the signage that indicates them. Going day to day, driving around town, they become non-existent, basically,” Blanchard said. “So, I think for our residents, and our visitors that come to our flatlands to fish, I think it will be something they will overlook or not realize as those tracks becoming reactivated.”
Blanchard is trying to get the word out to Aransas Pass residents and visitors, to make sure they’re paying attention when crossing railroad tracks.
“I think it’s important we get that message out and try to force it out there because we all need to take a moment when we see these tracks around town, to either stop, or pause and listen, because a train might be coming,” he said.
While some of the crossings in town have crossings bars and warning lights, not all of them do.
Union Pacific is adding crossings with lights and gates at Wilson, Goodnight, and Beasley Avenue.
While those warnings are being added, a flag person will be stationed at the crossings when trains are passing through, which is currently limited to a few days a week, according to a UP spokesperson.
Longtime residents like Robert Brewster and Henry Diaz Deleon, remember when the trains would frequently pass through town, so they have always remained cautious at railroad crossings.
“Stop, look, and listen, that’s what it’s all about. You don’t know if a train’s coming or not,” Brewster said. “(People) need to pay attention to how they’re driving. That’s a law, and you treat every crossing just like it’s alive.”
“When I cross the railroad tracks, I always look. Whether it’s not being used that much, or not, it’s a habit,” Diaz Deleon said. “A train is a whole lot bigger than a car or a truck, so I always look before I go across.”
Blanchard added that the railroad tracks are private property, and it is illegal to walk along them, and drivers should never stop on tracks.
“You cannot stop on the track. You must stop before the track or after the track, but not on the track,” Blanchard said. “You cannot even pause across the railroad track, you must cross that track and be in constant motion as you move across the track.”