BAY CITY — The only vehicle access into this community of 495 was closed for more than three hours Friday, a situation that Bay City Village Clerk Kim Lunda equated to being held hostage. She was especially worried that an emergency would occur and no one could respond.
BNSF Railway planned to repair the crossing June 25 and 26 as well as raise it at Highway 35 and Wabash. An advance announcement on the village website stated that the road would not be closed.
“Last week I asked him why he couldn’t set up another spot in town to cross, and he said he didn’t have the manpower to do it,” Lunda said.
Lunda said a BNSF representative led her to believe the crew would work on the crossing for short periods over the two days. No work was done Thursday.
“Now today it’s totally closed off, there’s no emergency exit for us to get in or out, and we are not happy. People have been waiting in their hot cars for hours,” she said.
The website notification said that one side over tracks would be open while work was done on the other, then crews would move to the other side. “It will be during the transition that you can expect delays,” the notice reads.
“The work was aimed at three hours, after which our Engineering team would be able to restore half of the crossing,” Ben Wilemon, BNSF external corporate communication manager said in an email to the RE. “We had a machine on standby to install a temporary crossing in case of an emergency.”
The crossing was restored at 3:30 p.m.
“We are sorry for any inconvenience this work has caused,” he wrote.
Red Wing Fire Department, which provides ambulance service for Bay City, said the department had not been notified that there was no access. There had been no ambulance calls as of Friday afternoon. Ellsworth Fire Department, which has a station at the Red Wing Regional Airport south of Bay City, could not be reached for comment.