Officials study rail crossing and traffic safety issues in Benson

Error message

  • Notice: Undefined index: taxonomy_term in similarterms_taxonomy_node_get_terms() (line 518 of /home/swiftcounty/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 0 in similarterms_list() (line 221 of /home/swiftcounty/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 1 in similarterms_list() (line 222 of /home/swiftcounty/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
admin's picture

Benson took another step last Friday toward resolving rail safety concerns as well as persistent delays caused when trains block the city’s downtown crossings for extended periods.
Federal and state rail officials, along with representatives of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the City of Benson, Swift County and Torning Township, met to review what could be done to improve the local crossings.
Also at the meeting were representatives of Stantec Consulting Services, Inc., a Twin Cities engineering firm, the city retained to develop a comprehensive plan on how the city’s rail problems could be mitigated.
The meeting, which was not open to the public, started in the Benson City Council chambers Friday morning where Stantec’s study was reviewed. Also, discussed at the meeting was MnDOT’s Rail Safety Study. That study scored Benson’s three downtown railroad crossings first, eighth and 15th on the list for high priority crossings on the more than 700 miles of train routes carrying highly flammable Bakken crude oil across Minnesota to refineries on the East and Gulf coasts.
The importance of the safety study was underscored by the derailment last week of a 109-car BNSF train in North Dakota. It caught fire, causing the evacuation of a nearby small town. It also spilled oil into a nearby wetland.
“Each grade crossing has the potential risk of a train and vehicle collision, or a train derailment,” the study says. “If a train filled with Bakken oil has an incident such as a derailment, there is a high probability that the oil, a highly volatile, hazardous material, would be released in significant volumes.
This past February, Stantec presented its findings outlining steps Benson could take to improve traffic flow as well as address pedestrian and vehicle traffic safety. The bill for those measures could cost up to $2 million to implement.
Funding for the projects recommended in Stantec’s assessment would come partially from local dollars, but the city plans to seek substantial funding assistance in state and federal grants. It will also ask BNSF to contribute toward project costs.
In March, the city approved spending up to $32,000 to have Stantec lead the implementation process for the recommendations it had made.

PHOTO: Representatives of federal, state and local governments with an interest in improving rail safety and traffic issues in Benson, met last Friday in Benson. BNSF representatives were also at the meeting.

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (2 votes)