The City of Moorhead, MN was experiencing significant population growth and oil activity in 2013/2014, and as a result the City saw a sharp increase in rail traffic. This increase in rail traffic placed a challenge on vehicle traffic flow, often causing delays and backups at the three at-grade crossings in downtown Moorhead. With nearly 100 trains per day crossing these intersections, the City was experiencing more than fifteen times the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) vehicle-rail exposure threshold of 50,000 interactions, topping out at more than 790,000 interactions per day. Even as the oil boom subsided, more than 70 daily train crossings and vehicle operations and safety concerns continued in the downtown network.
KLJ was hired to develop innovative design ideas for a multi-railroad grade separation project to address these issues. The team developed a methodology that addressed and evaluated alternatives for a potential vehicle-rail grade separation in downtown Moorhead. KLJ performed a massive data collection effort consisting of thirty (30) 24-hour turning movements counts in the downtown network and combining this data with an expansive origin-destination analysis to consider where traffic was traveling to or through downtown Moorhead. The team also performed traffic forecasting and issue identification, public involvement and coordination with multiple agencies, submitting grant applications, and initiated the environmental documentation process. The project was further expanded to include utility replacement, signal design, traffic engineering, and accessibility considerations for the three intersection and two proposed grade-raise separations on 11th Street.
The preliminary layout was completed in 2020 for the 11th Street Grade Separation project and included developing and testing several downtown alternatives addressing multimodal safety in the form of road diets, as well as a preliminary environmental review into the impacts of the grade separation. Project work also included a field review, rail forecasts, traffic modeling, design of bridge concepts and public involvement.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the City of Moorhead are currently partnering on finalizing the layout and environmental documentation phase of the underpass project for 11th Street. This underpass project includes two grade separations of 11th Street under the BNSF rail lines, paving, pedestrian accessibility (ADA) improvements, utility replacements and signals as part of Highway 10/75. Moorhead is bisected by multiple rail lines and this project provides many safety and mobility benefits by removing crossing blockages caused by heavy rail traffic and providing a grade separated crossing for downtown vehicular traffic. Read more about the project here.