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6/13/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Fast-growing Kansas city to build grade-separating overpass


On June 6, Olathe, Kan., Mayor Michael Copeland announced the state approved $16.8 million in funding for the city's $21 million grade-separation project.


Olathe plans to begin construction early next year on an elevated structure designed to carry Burlington Northern Santa Fe's eastern tracks over four highway intersections.


The railroad's trains currently block each of the crossings an average of 90 minutes each day, delaying 3,200 vehicles. One of Kansas' fastest-growing cities, Olathe has 23 grade crossings over which an average of 32 BNSF trains travel daily.


The city had considered building a tunnel to divert BNSF trains, but that project would have required Olathe to temporarily shift roads and tracks, relocate businesses, and acquire an estimated $6 million to $8 million in rights of way, according to a prepared statement.


Scheduled to be completed in 2005 by design/build firm TransSystems Corp., the overpass will require little or no right-of-way acquisition, and no vehicle- and train-traffic rerouting.


BNSF will pay about 5 percent of the project's cost and Olathe, the remainder not covered by state funds.


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