SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Officials from the city of Sioux Falls, the state of South Dakota and BNSF Railway celebrated the closure of the 5,000th grade crossing on BNSF’s rail network, setting a new national record for grade crossing closures and safety improvement, the railroad announced.
At a ceremony near the crossing and in view of the new 69th Street overpass currently under construction, officials watched as railroad crews pulled out the old crossing surface that allowed vehicles to cross the railroad tracks on 69th Street in Sioux Falls. Removing the surface was the last step to permanently closing the 69th Street crossing and to eliminating the opportunity for any future grade crossing collisions.
“Safety is a top priority at BNSF,” said Lyn Hartley, BNSF Director of Public Projects. “We have learned over time that one of the best ways to address grade crossing safety is to reduce the number of at-grade crossings. To the great credit of Sioux Falls city leaders, they recognized that the ideal solution between trains and motorists was to close this crossing and build the 69th Street overpass.”
Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether said, “We are a forward thinking city in Sioux Falls always looking for opportunities to grow. However, public safety always remains as our primary goal in our quest to have the highest quality of life possible. This provides us a safer, more efficient way for vehicles to cross the tracks.”
BNSF has worked cooperatively with states and communities across its 28-state network to close 5,000 crossings since the BNSF crossing closure program began in 2000. Combined with other safety initiatives, the grade crossing closure program has helped to reduce grade crossing collisions on BNSF’s 32,000 mile network by 70 percent since 1995. BNSF has one of the lowest highway-railroad grade crossing collision rates in the rail industry and continues to work with the states and communities it serves to further improve grade crossing safety.