Federal Grant Applied for Humboldt Yard Innovative Crossing Improvements for Minneapolis
According to a recent grant application prepared by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), MnDOT is requesting a federal grant of $716,625 from the U.S Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) under the Railroad Safety Grants for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products by Rail (STEP Rail) Program, to improve the railroad intersection at 45th and Humboldt Ave N, in Minneapolis, MN. The grade crossing improvement project would include an addition of a median, cross-walk and lighting and sidewalk improvements. The overall project cost $955,500 of which the remainder would come from non-Federal matching funds.
The grant application identifies safety as its number one priority for MnDOT, especially where hazardous freight materials are involved. It has undertaken major statewide freight planning efforts to identify and prioritize improvements to promote the efficient and safe movement of freight through the state. They have two key state-wide plans guiding MnDOT’s freight safety efforts are the Minnesota Comprehensive Statewide Freight and Passenger Rail Plan (State Rail Plan), updated in March 20151, and the 2014 Report on Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Improvements and Rail Safety (“2014 MnDOT Grade Crossing Report”).Both highlight safety as a key issue affecting rail projects due to a history of collisions with crossing vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The State Rail Plan’s Four-Year Action Plan identified as critical “the continued development and investment in reducing rail/highway conflicts, including upgrading rail/highway grade crossings, grade separations, and crossing closures.” Additionally, the 2014 Minnesota legislature “passed several significant bills aimed at understanding and ensuring the safety of crude-by-rail movements.”
The project, Humboldt Yard Innovative Crossing Improvements in Minneapolis, is located at the intersection of Humboldt Avenue (CSAH 57) and CP Railway’s Paynesville Subdivision. Humboldt Avenue, a major collector, is part of the Minnesota State Aid Highway system and designated a County State Aid Highway (CSAH). At the project intersection, Humboldt Avenue intersects with four different types of freight rail, all at a skewed angle to the roadway. Within 100 feet the road crosses four separate CP tracks including the:
- siding track,
- industry lead track, and
- yard lead track.
The project aims to address safety challenges of the four-track convergence at a skewed angle to Humboldt Avenue and reduce risk to residents in the high-density neighborhood, including senior and disabled individuals living in developments adjacent to the crossing.
An additional benefit of the project would also be to reduce environmental risk to the adjacent Shingle Creek, a tributary to the Mississippi River. The intended outcomes of the project include reduced risk of vehicle and train crashes and therefore less risk of a catastrophic train crash or derailment of hazardous materials, which would dramatically affect surrounding area. Anticipated benefits include fewer roadway crashes and enhanced pedestrian access and mobility across the tracks. If there are any questions, contact: Peter Dahlberg, Office of Freight & Commercial Vehicle Operations MS 470, 395 John Ireland Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155, Phone: (651) 366-3693, E-Mail: Peter.Dahlberg@state.mn.us