Tag Archives: saint paul

Bakken Oil Train Hits Semi At Unsafe Crossing

There is a poorly secured railroad crossing in Saint Paul Park (south of Saint Paul, Minnesota) where a small industrial road crosses a BNSF track. The crossing has warning lights but no barriers. Yesterday (June 7, 2015) a semi crossing the tracks was hit by a Bakken oil train coming down the BNSF line.

The Bakken oil trains on this BNSF line has been an increasing matter of concern. As Bakken oil trains derail and in some cases catch fire en route from the Dakotas to the east coast, folks who see these trains run by their homes, through their small towns, and across their travel routes have been asking questions about safety. Minnesota Governor Dayton recently noted that this particular crossing is a dangerous one, and he has been trying to get it closed. Too late for this incident, though.

The incident was fairly benign. No one was injured. The truck was destroyed and the flour it contained is all over the place. The BNSF track, and other tracks, have a lot of curves in this area, where the trains snake among various bodies of water (including the Mississippi) and urban zones, and at the site of this accident, refinery complexes. For this reason the trains are usually going rather slow, I assume.

Fox 9 quotes Saint Paul Park Mayor Keith Frank as saying “We’ve definitely had concerns about this crossing for some time.” He also noted โ€œI think part of the problem is who’s going to pay for it. The city doesn’t have the money to take on that expense, how much the state should pay versus how much people think the railroads should pay.โ€

Safety improvements at this and other intersections are not being planned, as a dysfunctional (due to contamination by Republicans, mainly) legislature has been unable to manage the state’s budget this year.

Bear in The Cities

For the second time in six months, a wild black bear was found wandering around deep in the urban zone in Saint Paul. I’m not sure what happened to the last one, but this one was killed by Saint Paul police under advisement of the Department of Natural Resources. To give you an idea of the location, here’s a view of the cities with the bear marked:

i-b881775c46d714da95623722bee917e3-LocationOFWildBlackBearInSaintPaul-thumb-500x569-74074.jpg

This image represent an area that is approximately five miles across.

There are a lot of bears in Minnesota, but it is a little surprising to see one get this far into the city. It could have come down train tracks and/or via any of several lines of lakes and parks that grace the region, which in turn are a function of there being ancient river channels that are now filled with drift and kettle lakes. There is also plenty of parkland along the riverside.

Details here.