RR crossing to help complete regional trail

Photo by Deb Gau A segment of bike trail planned near the intersection of Channel Parkway and Minnesota Highway 19 in Marshall will include a railroad crossing.

MARSHALL — It’s been a long time coming, Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson said. But after Tuesday’s Marshall City Council meeting, the city is closer to connecting two more segments of a regional bike trail.

At their regular meeting, council members approved an agreement with the BNSF railroad for a bike/pedestrian crossing near the intersection of Channel Parkway and Minnesota Highway 19 in Marshall. The crossing will allow the city to connect a public sidewalk running along Channel Parkway to existing city trails near the Lyon County fairgrounds. The trail system is also part of the Camden Regional Trail, which runs south from Marshall through Lynd and Camden State Park.

“We had months of tweaking and revisions” to plans for the trail route, in order to meet the railroad’s crossing requirements, Olson said. The finalized route will travel along Highway 19 and Fairgrounds Road,before connecting with an existing segment of the trail.

The trail project is being partially funded by a state Legacy Grant, sponsored by Lyon County. There is $274,680 available in Legacy Grant funds, plus an additional $90,000 in federal grant funds. There will be an estimated cost of $40,710 to the city for a local match.

On Tuesday, Olson presented the council with an agreement with BNSF to install a crossing surface on the tracks, not far from where the railroad crosses Highway 19 on the west edge of town. Olson said the crossing will have several safety measures. To start with, the trail will cross the tracks at a right angle. The crossing will also have advance warning signals and a bell to warn bikers or pedestrians of trains, he said.

Separate from the crossing agreement, Olson presented the council with proposed licenses for a bike/pedestrian path and for putting a drainage pipeline within the railroad’s right of way. Both licenses were required before the trail and crossing could be built, he said. Olson said the city is also working on getting approval to build part of the trail on property leased out by BNSF for storage.

In separate actions, council members voted to approve the agreement with BNSF to build the railroad crossing, the bike/pedestrian path license and the pipeline license.