BNSF Railway has notified the city that it will install a 120 foot tall lattice tower on its right of way northwest of the intersection of West Rowland Avenue and South Costilla Street. This is east of South Santa Fe Drive between West Mineral Avenue and Ridge Road. In a letter to the city BNSF stated, “The purpose of the tower is to warn engineers of upcoming events such as broken signals and stalled trains. There will be automatic stop of the train if warranted. The goal is to eliminate derailments and crashes.”
The Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 (ICCTA) preempts regulation by municipal governments where the law prevents or unreasonably interferes with railroad transportation. A majority of courts have interpreted ICCTA to preempt all municipal and state regulation of railroad property essential for railroad operations.
The city staff has asked BNSF to attend a public meeting to answer questions about the tower, to confirm that it will be used only for BNSF operations, to provide construction drawings, to consider alternative designs, and to confirm whether it is bound to comply with safety codes regarding construction and maintenance. The letter from the city and BNSF’s response are attached below.
According to BNSF, the tower will contain two antennae, one for radio communication and the other for microwave communication.
City letter to BNSF and BNSF’s response [PDF]