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Published February 23, 2010, 10:18 PM

Closing Railroad Crossings in Grand Forks?

Grand Forks has a large number of unprotected railroad crossings in the city.

Grand Forks has a large number of unprotected railroad crossings in the city. Many of them are along the track that runs up to the State Mill. Some might have to be closed to improve safety.

The city has hired SRF Consulting to do a study on the ten crossings on the line that runs from the rail yard near Demers Avenue out past the State Mill. None have safety measures.

Dan Edgerton of SRF Consulting says, “We've done a lot of rail studies in North Dakota, Minnesota, and nationally. Most crossings at a minimum have railroad vehicle gates.”

However, none of these ten crossings do.

Along with Bacon Road, the study also shows possible railroad crossing closures on a few other streets, like 4th Avenue North, the alley between 4th Avenue North and University Avenue, and 7th Avenue North.

Some businesses in the area are whistling their concerns about the proposed closures.

Dick Walsh of Dick Walsh Construction says, “It takes a lot of extra time to get the equipment around there. I've got trailers on one side of the tracks. My loader is on the other side.”

Others who live in the area feel something needs to be done because the crossings right now are too dangerous.

Karen Dahl, who lives in the area, says, “Because a lot of the driveways and the alleyways are so close to the tracks, and there's no barrier, that is a concern.”

It may be becoming even more of an issue. The State Mill is thinking about having more of its grain hauled by trains than trucks. That would increase train traffic in the area and increase the safety hazard.

Edgerton says, “One of the reasons for this study is that we want to look towards the future if train volumes were to increase.”

The last accident at one of the ten railroad crossings happened in 2002.

As of now, this is just a study. The council has not taken any action on possibly closing any railroad crossings or putting up any kind of safety measures.