Stop oil trains passing by Target Field during major events, Dayton demands

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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is concerned about the increase in the number of oil trains now passing through Minneapolis following a temporary rerouting.

Dayton has written to Carl Ice, CEO of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), following a reroute that has seen the number of oil trains passing through an area of Minneapolis rise from 0-3 trains per week to between 11 and 24.

The trains are passing by major landmarks – with the line particularly close to Target Field and not far from Target Center and the University of Minnesota campus. Dayton says it means an extra 99,000 Minnesotans are within the 1/2 mile "evacuation zone" around crude oil routes.

He's calling on BNSF to minimize the risk of any incident affecting a larger number of people by sending more non-oil freight down the line through the city, and by not routing oil trains past Target Field while major events are going on.

"This corridor, which includes 63 grade crossings, was not studied in MnDOT's 2014 Grade Crossing and Rail Safety for Oil and Other Hazardous Materials report, because it was not then identified as a route carrying Bakken crude," he wrote.

He also asked BNSF to make it clear to the public that this reroute is temporary, give a better indication of when normal service will resume, and expand training for emergency responders to include those along the new route.

It's been previously reported that the reroute sends trains carrying a million gallons of oil bound for eastern refineries via the suburbs of Wayzata and St. Louis Park and then through downtown Minneapolis.

The usual route sends the trains from St. Cloud and sees them enter the Twin Cities via Anoka and Coon Rapids into northeast Minneapolis. That line is currently being upgraded.

The Star Tribune reports BNSF has previously indicated that normal service will resume at the end of construction season, when winter arrives.

A BNSF spokesperson told the Star Tribune the company would speak with Dayton about his concerns.

"In all areas of the metro region where we move crude oil and other hazmat, we take a number of steps to reduce risk," they added.

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