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Northern MN railroad crossing back in service after bridge fire last week


Train traffic is moving again across a busy railroad crossing in northern Minnesota, just a few days after a bridge caught fire and collapsed.

The Canadian National Railway built a temporary span in place across the Rat Root River near International Falls to get the trains moving again by Saturday morning, the Northland News Center reports.

The original timber bridge caught fire and collapsed early Wednesday, nearly dumping several rail cars into the river below. As the engineer was stopping the train, a few cars filled with potash got caught on the burning bridge, but none of the chemical fertilizer spilled into the river.

The destroyed bridge is part of a heavily traveled railway that serves roughly two dozen trains a day, and train traffic was backing up while the bridge was out of commission.

MPR News reports construction on the temporary span began within hours of the accident. A business owner whose boat company is within sight of the bridge said crews installed huge culverts to carry the river flow, and poured huge amounts of crushed rock to build a bypass just west of the old bridge.

Trains began rolling across the new span early Saturday morning, according to the news station.

The next step is to rebuild a permanent bridge, and crews will begin working on that shortly, according to the Northland News Center.

The rail line crosses the U.S.-Canadian border in Rainer, Minn., and continues south toward Duluth and onto Chicago, the Canadian National Railway website shows.

Rainer is one of the busiest rail crossings between the U.S. and Canada.

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