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Rail News: Communication and Signal

Minnesota DOT pursues upgrades at nine grade crossings

Safety improvements at grade crossings along crude-by-rail corridors are the focus of a recent Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) study, which identified nine crossings pegged for immediate upgrades.

The Minnesota Legislature last year appropriated $2 million for crossing safety improvements and directed MnDOT to study rail lines used to move Bakken crude from North Dakota through Minnesota. The crossings are located on some of the most heavily traveled rail lines in the state, MnDOT officials said in a press release.

"The safer transport of crude oil will reduce the public’s exposure to derailments, spills and fires that have already occurred in other states," said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle.

The department evaluated 100 high-priority crossings to determine whether current protection devices are appropriate or could be upgraded. Forty sites were further researched and nine crossings were selected as suitable short-term improvement candidates for the appropriated funding. The crossings are located in Big Lake, Clear Lake, Elk River, Perham, St. Cloud, St. Paul Park, Wadena and Winona.

Other more expensive crossing projects requiring additional funding also are recommended in the study, including grade separations, MnDOT officials said. The department plans to work with communities to finalize recommendations and implement other safety projects.

The study also reviewed other potential projects that would help improve rail safety, such as tank car upgrades and education and enforcement programs.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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