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Detroit Lakes moves closer to horn-free railway line

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has signed an agreement with the City of Detroit Lakes over responsibilities at the Kris Street crossing. This puts the city one step closer to a Whistle Free Zone.

Community Development Director Larry Remmen said that on Monday the city received a copy of the signed agreement.

The city worked for months with the railroad over liability responsibilities at the crossing.

The Whistle Free Zone has been in the works for years, coming into the Highway 10 realignment design. The zone will stretch from the County Road 54 crossing to the west side of town just before the Wine Road crossing, across from Airport Road.

The Washington Avenue and County Road 54 crossings didn't have the issues Kris Street crossing did with its complex quad gate system.

In its first proposal, BNSF asked the city to take responsibility for any accidents that happen at the intersection. The city didn't see the fairness in that, and negotiations continued.

Now that an agreement is signed and in place, there are two steps left before train horns are silenced through town on the BNSF corridor.

BNSF needs to install the exit gates at the crossing and a vehicle detection loop must also be installed. When that will happen though, no one knows.

"I wish I did," Remmen said.

He added that he has sent an e-mail to his BNSF contact to find out a timeline but hasn't heard back yet.

"I would like it sooner rather than later," he added.

Although residents and visitors have put up with the horns this long, he said, now that it's getting closer and closer, people are more eager to have the finished product.

Once installed, the city will send out a notice of establishment, and after a 21-day waiting period, the BNSF engineers will cease blowing their horns at crossings in town.

The vast majority of train traffic through Detroit Lakes -- some 60 to 70 trains per day -- is on the double-track east-west BNSF corridor.

But the quiet zone will not apply to the half-dozen or fewer Canadian Pacific trains per day that travel north-south on the single-track rail corridor that also goes through Detroit Lakes.