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City recognized for train efforts

11/14/2013

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

The city of Hays was recognized Wednesday for their rail safety efforts by the Union Pacific Railroad.

The Union Pacific Safety Spike recognizes those who go above and beyond to promote railroad safety. Mayor Kent Steward, City Manager Toby Dougherty and Assistant City Manager Paul Briseno represented the city and received a plaque at the small gathering inside city hall.

Ben Jones, director of public relations for Union Pacific, said the city's safety measures around the railroad merit recognition.

"Whether it's crossing enforcement to make sure folks are behaving safely when crossing and trying to reduce trespassers, the city ... has been wonderful to work with, so that's why they receive the award today," Jones said.

The city's response to the July train wreck, a fiery blaze involving 18 train cars, allowed Union Pacific to contain the situation, Jones said.

"Part of the recognition is to thank them for the effort they put in to make sure the area was safe and secure," Jones said. "We were able to get in as quickly as we could to clean the incident up and continue operations."

Steward said the city, the fire department and the police department all are dedicated to making the railroads safe for the community.

"We have hundreds of tons of steel hurtling through the middle of town on a daily basis, and so they're up to speed on that the gates work and that all the protections are in place that are supposed to be," Steward said.

Steward said Union Pacific might derail the city's tentative plan to build a walking trail in range of the train tracks. The trail would not be right next to the tracks, and there would be a 6-foot high fence for safety, he said.