Railroad crossings anger me

The sun shone bright on the summer day as I, with a delicious, piping hot Quizno’s sandwich in the passenger seat, drove north on Duff, going back home. My car, a now-defunct 1996 Buick Century affectionately referred to as "it," rattled along the road, filled with the heavy scent of Italian meats and cheeses. But something blocked me from enjoying this sandwich in the comfort of my own home. A train. Stopped dead on the tracks just south of Main Street. I tried to find some way to escape the looming doom, to get away from the sure death of time sitting in line behind the stopped train, but it was futile. I had to slow to a creaking stop and wait. The Quizno’s was now the enemy, the temptation in the middle of the desert. My fine summer day had been choked to death by a graffiti-riddled Union Pacific. Ames was founded as a railroad stop by the Skunk River in 1864, and railroads were a major part of the town’s operations until arguably the 1960s, when the main passenger line running through town was removed. The Union Pacific line that remains was formerly known as the Chicago and Northwestern line, and it runs at least to Omaha, often carrying coal and other fossil fuels. Trains run through Ames usually at a pace of 60 to 70 times a day, halting traffic and stopping the town’s workers and students literally dead in their tracks, unless they manage to take a rarely-made detour through tight downtown alleyways. The recent widening of Bloomington Road with the construction of the north Ames Fareway was complicated by the railroad crossing, as more complex construction and paperwork was required to create the extra two lanes in the crossing. This held up Ames residents’ day-to-day lives and forced anyone trying to travel down the road to take a long detour through town, and I wonder if that would have been such a lengthy process had the railroad not crossed there. Do you see a pattern here? I sure as hell do. While it’s nice to acknowledge Ames’ history as a railroad town, the railroad crossings make this city a little less appealing every time a train comes through. The line doesn’t bring our town any profit that I know of, and with that in mind, it’s certainly not worth the hassle our citizens struggle with every day. Instead of constantly having to repair the old tracks in order to make it a more efficient and safe hassle, let’s avoid the hassle altogether. I think rebuilding the Union Pacific line to bypass the city would, even if it means finally ending our town’s rich railroad history, make Ames a better–and more detour-less–city.