City’s rail crossings ranked high for potential danger

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Benson’s 14th Street crossing with the Burlington North Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad tracks was ranked first on the recently released study looking at crossing safety concerns in relation to the transportation of Bakken crude oil by rail.
But that first place ranking in the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s “Improvements to Highway-Rail Grade Crossings and Rail Safety” study did not put it in line for any of the $2 million the 2014 Legislature set aside for crossing improvements.
To fully fund the recommendations in the study would take more than $280 million.
Out of the 683 at-grade crossings included in the MnDOT study, Benson’s three downtown crossings ranked first, eighth and 15th among those considered a high priority in addressing safety concerns. The 13th Street crossing ranked number eight while the 12th street crossing was number 15.
In looking where to put state funding for crossing improvements, MnDOT looked where the limited funds would do the greatest good at a relatively low level of expense. Eight communities will receive between $75,000 and $800,000 in funding for crossing projects.  Wadena was top on the finance list with the $800,000 allotment.
While the City of Benson didn’t get on the list for the funds currently available, City Manager Rob Wolfington said that this study would be in the hands of Minnesota legislators as they start the 2015 session. Benson’s high rank with all three of its crossings could mean it will have a place on a list of projects on a possible bonding bill.


Photo:  Benson’s 14th Street crossing ranked first, the 13th Street crossing eighth and the 12th Street crossing (above right) 15th on MnDOT’s ‘High Priority Crudge by Rail Crossing List.’ It was a list that assesses the potential problems and dangers posed at rail crossings on corridors through which Bakken crude oil is shipped.

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