The tragic events on Sept. 30 have those who live on Glover Road pleading once more for a second option to cross the railroad tracks. The dirt road in Leggett is a mile from the railroad crossing to a dead end. To compound the issue, trains commonly stop on the tracks, blocking the crossing for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, and up to four hours.
Last week, the Enterprise reported the story of Monica Franklin, whose 3-month-old baby, K’Twon, had stopped breathing during a nap. After an hour of CPR, paramedics arrived.
A train was on the track for an hour and 10 minutes the day of Franklin’s emergency. It took the ambulance 30 minutes to receive K’Twon because they were stuck on the other side. The train started once Franklin and paramedics reached the tracks, delaying another five minutes to get across.
An autopsy is still pending to determine the cause of death, however, a heartbeat was not recovered until K’Twon’s body reached St. Luke’s Health – Memorial Hospital in Livingston. Franklin said he was then flown to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston for two days before tests determined he had been without oxygen for too long.
Residents on Glover Road, Franklin, Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy, Leggett ISD Superintendent Jana Lowe and Polk County Precinct 3 Commissioner Milt Purvis all have the same story about their conversations — if they are fortunate enough to have one — with Union Pacific.
“They say they will do something,” Purvis said, “but they never do it.
“I have talked with them, Sydney has talked with them, and Carolyn Glover Hockley mailed them letters. It has been an ongoing thing,” the commissioner continued. “All we have ever asked is just another crossing. I even mentioned to them if they would get me an easement to go down that side of the tracks, that I would build them a road from Glover to Frank Drive. That has been in phone conversations I’ve had with them over the years.”
A path to Frank Drive would give those on Glover Road another way to Highway 59. It also leads to McCarty Road, which intersects with FM 942 and a third Highway 59 outlet.
The county commissioner mentioned another crossing south of the only existing way over the tracks would be a second solution.
“We would have to just build a little short road from the county road (a few feet) up to the crossing. The railroad owns the right of way in between them, but it wouldn’t be a big trick to do it. That is what I have been trying for. We’ve had conversations, they just said they would get back with us.”
But after 30 years, it seems clear no one at Union Pacific is getting back to anyone in Polk County.
According to letters from Carolyn Glover Hockley (the road is named for her father, W.T. “Pete” Glover), Glover Road had a second and third crossing, yet both were destroyed during a remodel.
Purvis is unsure if a law prevents trains from blocking a crossing for an extended amount of time. Franklin has been informed by attorneys that there is a state law requiring trains to move after 10 minutes. Federal law, if one pertaining to a time limit exists, would supersede any state or local requirements.
“Those guys work their own rules and don’t adhere to (anybody),” Purvis said. “TxDoT (Texas Department of Transportation) can’t even interfere with their rules.
“I would go either way. If they would put a crossing in, I will build the road up to it the minute they do it. If they get the right of way to go down the side (connecting to Frank Road) I will start on that immediately. This deal never should have happened. I am hoping now they will send us somebody that will come here and talk to us to go down there with us. I will go meet with anybody down there to work with them and get any kind of solution we can get.”
Purvis agreed that there is a lack of effort on Union Pacific’s end to come to a decision, but reminded that they are not required to follow local or even state law.
“They are the big dog, evidently, because they don’t have to listen to any of us,” Purvis said. “I don’t know how often (the train parks on the tracks), but it must happen a lot more than I realized. What gets me about it is that it takes something like this. Let’s fix the problem.”
The commissioner said he plans to reach out to Union Pacific again in hopes of finding a solution.