The Minnesota Department of Transportation Rail Office has committed to making updates to seven Highway Rail Grade Crossings in Blue Earth County between 2018 and 2020.
Funding from the Rail Grade Crossing Improvement Program will pave way for gate projects in 2018 on County Road 5 and County Road 26 north of Mankato, County Road 56 in Eagle Lake and the Union Pacific crossing in the Garden City Township.
Blue Earth County Engineer Ryan Thilges says the County provided recommendations on what crossing needed safety improvements.
“It’s phenomenal to see the amount of projects that we’re getting in Blue Earth County, where there will be gates and lights installed that’ll be a tremendous safety improvement for our citizens.”
The gates on County Road 20 west of Lake Crystal and County Road 37 east of Eagle Lake will be reconstructed in 2019. With the final crossing at County Road 30 west of Lake Crystal undergoing a gate improvement in 2020.
County Officials say each rail grade crossing costs MnDOT between 250 to 300-thousand dollars to improve the gates.
“They administer the contract with the railroad and they take care of all of the work. They schedule it, so we have very little control over the timing of it. We provide support with respect to traffic control and some other measures. However, we get notified when the work is going to take place.”
MnDOT coordinates rail crossing safety projects and rail regulatory activities for more than 4-thousand 500 public highway-rail grade crossings throughout Minnesota.