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City budgets $32,000 for next phase of rail crossing project

Lead Summary

The City of Benson is taking the next step in developing a plan to address public safety concerns and traffic congestion issues caused by trains traveling through the city, especially when those trains block the three downtown railroad crossings for extended periods.
To give it a professional assessment of the options for addressing the problems, the city council last year retained Stantec Consulting Services, Inc., a Twin Cities engineering firm. In February, Stantec presented its findings outlining a series of 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 it is hoped that substantial funding assistance would come from state and federal grants. It is also hoped that Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) could contribute to project costs.
But before any measures recommended in the study can be pursued, further work has to take place at the local level to develop a more concrete proposal for action to present to the state and federal governments, as well as to BNSF.
At its meeting Monday night, the Benson City Council unanimously approved spending up to $32,000 to have Stantec lead a project implementation process. Benson’s Planning Commission reviewed the agreement with Stantec earlier Monday afternoon and recommended its approval.
Photo:  Train delays are a regular occurrence in Benson, with three main railroad crossings in the downtown.

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