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Livermore Woman Gets $6,000 Fine For Using Railroad Shortcut

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No Trespassing sign posted next to Union Pacific railroad tracks in Livermore. (CBS)

No Trespassing sign posted next to Union Pacific railroad tracks in Livermore. (CBS)

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LIVERMORE (CBS 5) — A Livermore woman is fighting a $6,000 ticket she received for taking a shortcut through the railroad tracks near her home.

Laura Rensink, a veterinarian and mother of three said she crossed the tracks at Ventura Avenue on foot during her lunch break on June 7th. The day is also known as International Level Crossing Awareness Day, which aims to improve safety at railroad crossings.

“I went over here and crossed this way to get home,” Rensink said.

While it only took her a few seconds to cross the track, Rensink said a Union Pacific officer issued her a ticket.

“I wasn’t throwing rocks at the train, I wasn’t throwing myself on the tracks, I wasn’t loitering,” she said.

When Rensink showed up in court, she was shocked when a judge issued her a $6,000 fine. She wasn’t just cited for crossing the tracks; Rensink was also cited for trespassing.

Neighbors said they use the shortcut regularly to get to a nearby supermarket. A CBS 5 crew witnessed dozens of people crossing the tracks with groceries in hand.

“My neighbor who grew up here…He said he’s seen it hundreds and hundreds of times over the past 40 years,” she said.

Rensink sent a letter to the Pleasanton Patch news site describing her experience. But she wasn’t expecting her letter to generate a flood of debate.

“People are making it seem like I’m a criminal. So, I don’t like to feel like I am a criminal,” she said.

Rensink plans to fight the $6,000 in an upcoming court appearance. In the meantime, she has posted signs along the track, warning people to stay away. Rensink said she doesn’t want anyone else to experience a costly mistake.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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