Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Hwy 47 and BNSF Railroad Crossing Study



The intersection of Hwy 47/Ferry St. and the BNSF Railway has safety issues. Highway-railroad grade crossings, which Hwy 47/Ferry St. and the BNSF Railroad is considered, have been a high point of collisions that result in serious injury or fatality according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Railroad Administration. Since warning/control devices were installed at these intersections, there has been a tremendous reduction in collisions. However, determining which crossings needed additional safety improvements became more difficult. The Texas Department of Transportation developed a prioritization formula that identifies the risks associated with each highway-railroad grade crossing.

From this formula (known as the Texas Priority Index) the Hwy 47/Ferry St. and BNSF railroad crossing was deemed one of the worst crossings in the state of Minnesota because of:

  • High traffic volumes (18,300 vehicles/day) + high train volumes (40-80 trains/day)
  • Train speeds as high as 75 mph
  • Major property damage crashes occurred in 1972, 1973, 1976 and 1986. In 2003, a teen driver collided with a train, resulting in four fatalities.

The proposed options from this study would improve safety for motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and trains.

Additional safety concerns

These secondary needs within the project area will also be considered as long as they don’t substantially increase project cost and impact.

Line of sight

The railroad tracks and the roadway are at a 55 degree skew angle. The railroad tracks are also higher than Hwy 47/Ferry St, creating a hump in the roadway as it crosses the tracks.

Crossing conditions

  • Traffic delays of train lengths, mixture of trains (freight, Amtrak and Northstar), volume, and frequent gate-down times result in back-ups onto Hwy 10, sometimes as far back as Bunker Lake Blvd
  • The nearby Northstar Station requires lowering gates when westbound trains approach the station. This results in lowered gates as long as two minutes.
  • Frequent lowered gates occasionally leads drivers to drive around them, which is a safety concern

Access and traffic operations

  • Unmarked business driveways near this intersection lead to driver confusion and difficult or unsafe turning maneuvers when trains are present or approaching
  • The number of driveways and roadways that access Hwy 47/Ferry St. compromise safety and add to roadway congestion
  • Roadway congestion (due to insufficient capacity) results in high crash rates (mainly rear-ends)

Proposed alternatives

The focus of this study is to identify alternatives to separate the railroad and Hwy 47/Ferry St. There currently is not a preferred alternative and MnDOT and the city of Anoka are asking for input from the public on their preference:

If an alternative is selected at the end of this study (late summer 2016), then a concept design will be developed, but will not be a final design for construction. From there a preliminary design phase will be implemented and conclude by summer of 2017. Funding has currently not been identified.