Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Northern Lights Express

Proposed passenger rail service between Minneapolis and Duluth, MN

Rail safety

Improvements for at-grade railroad crossings in the NLX corridor

There are 117 public and 44 private grade crossings in the NLX Corridor. The NLX Project proposes installation of active warning devices, reconstruction of approach roadways, installation of medians, and rail infrastructure-related improvements such as construction of an additional track across the roadway. The NLX Project is not proposing to close any public or private grade crossings.

Currently, 62 of the crossings are equipped with automatic gates and flashing lights and the remainder are stop sign-controlled. As part of the NLX Project, each grade crossing will be equipped with automatic gate systems and flashing-light signals. The options for automatic gate systems are as follows:

Two gates: Flashing-light signals, automatic gate arm before the tracks for each direction of travel, crossbuck sign (Railroad Crossing sign)
Two gates with median: Flashing-light signals, automatic gate arm before the tracks for each direction of travel, crossbuck sign (Railroad Crossing sign), four-foot wide raised concrete median
Four gates: Four automatic gate arms – two for each direction; one gate before the tracks, and the other after the tracks, crossbuck sign (Railroad Crossing sign)

In locations where there is insufficient room for a median, due to close proximity of a roadway parallel to the track or because a median would block driveways, four gates will be installed. A total of 37 grade crossings will be upgraded with four gates and flashing lights. Approximately 52 grade crossings will be equipped with a standard treatment of two gates and flashing lights with a median. On unimpaired and other low-volume roadways, two gates with flashing lights and no median will be installed at each grade crossing. There are 16 grade crossings that do not require upgrades or the upgrades will be done by other entities.

Federal Railroad Administration

The FRA is the lead federal agency on the NLX Project and provides guidance and oversight in accordance with federal regulations.

It takes the work of many coordinated agencies and stakeholders to bring a rail project from dream to reality. The NLX project is moving forward in collaboration with MnDOT, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the NLX Alliance and other local stakeholders. In this newsletter and in upcoming issues, watch for highlights of NLX Project agencies and stakeholders. This issue features the FRA and their project participation.

The FRA was created by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 with a mission to “enable the safe, reliable, and efficient movement of people and goods for a strong America, now and in the future”. Today, FRA regulates over 760 railroads, with a focus on transporting passengers and goods as safely as possible. FRA’s activities have made the past ten years one of the safest in rail transportation history and they’re continuing to develop new initiatives to improve passenger rail technology, develop rail corridors and enhance safety now and in the future.