Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Hwy 47 and BNSF Railroad Crossing


Purpose and Need

Highway 47 in Anoka project location map

Hwy 47 in Anoka project location map.

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What is purpose and need?

  • Purpose and need is used by project engineers, as well as state and federal agencies. It’s also the name for an official report.
  • Purpose describes the project outcomes, or how the area will be improved.
  • Need defines the specific problems that need to be solved. It can be broken down further:
    • Primary needs are the main transportation problems that need to be solved.
    • Secondary needs describe other transportation problems or opportunities for improvements within the study area that may be able to be addressed, if feasible.

What are evaluation criteria?

Evaluation criteria are the measures that determine how the design options – the possible solutions – will be compared. This provides a consistent way to determine which potential design option best meets the project's stated purpose and need.

Together the evaluation criteria and purpose and need identify transportation problems, explain the proposed outcome of future improvements, and determine how the next project phase will evaluate the planned upgrades.

More than 1,000 people shared important survey feedback in fall of 2021. This feedback confirmed many of the same issues and problems that had been identified in the data analysis of traffic levels and crash rates.

Primary need

Railroad crossing safety: There are higher risks associated with rail crossings that reduce safety of drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and trains at the crossing. Crashes and near-misses potentially affect all modes of travel.

Secondary needs

Vehicle safety: Crashes are higher than average north of the railroad crossing in the project area. These crashes are due to traffic backups from trains, roadway layout, and the presence of several driveways and intersections.

Vehicle mobility: This is defined as the ability to drive easily without congestion or delays. Drivers currently experience backups and delays at and near the railroad crossing.

Additional considerations

Contaminated materials management: This project study area may include contaminated soils and groundwater. Any construction will need to be coordinated with environmental safety in mind.

Rum River floodway: The river runs along the east side of Hwy 47 and has a defined floodway in the project study area. Any construction will need to be coordinated with the appropriate agencies to minimize the impact on this natural resource.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Railroad crossing safety
  • Vehicle safety
  • Vehicle mobility
  • Changes in traffic patterns
  • How intersections operate
  • How likely can it be built
  • Walkability/bikeability
  • Property impacts
  • Contaminated soil
  • Water quality

Volume of vehicles & trains crossing per day

The number of trains and vehicles that cross the railroad per day is far above what warrants an upgrade.

Bar charts displaying volume of trains crossing per day
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Bar charts displaying volume of vehicles crossing per day
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What we heard

From Jan. 13-30, 2022 the public had an opportunity to comment on the purpose and need and evaluation criteria. There were 36 comments submitted online. Below is a summary of common themes and input received.

Railroad crossing safety

  • An overpass would allow for continuous flow of traffic
  • An overpass will increase safety at the railroad crossing
  • An overpass may hinder the accessibility to neighborhoods
  • An overpass may restrict business access in the area

Vehicle safety

  • With traffic backups, blind spots become an issue with the way the road curves. Reducing bottlenecks would improve safety
  • Straightening the curve of the road may improve vehicle safety
  • Adding a shoulder around the curve may improve safety
  • Reduce intersections and access to businesses to reduce points of potential crashes

Vehicle mobility

  • Freight vehicles should be considered as they need to access loading docks
  • Bottlenecks frequently slow down traffic

Rum River floodway

  • The Rum River is a natural resource that should be protected and we should consider a revitalized section of prairie

Other concerns

  • Include a safe pedestrian and bicycle crossing option for residents
  • Better walking and biking paths in the area, including easy access to the Rum River South County Park
  • Impact of any reduced intersections on access to businesses and neighborhoods