VIDEO: Perham to receive rail safety upgrades
Perham, MN (WDAY TV) - State-funded rail safety upgrades are on track to hit the high-traffic train town of Perham. The city is 1 of 8 in Minnesota selected by the legislature for improvements totaling $2 million. The industrial lakes town of Per...
Perham, MN (WDAY TV) - State-funded rail safety upgrades are on track to hit the high-traffic train town of Perham.
The city is 1 of 8 in Minnesota selected by the legislature for improvements totaling $2 million. The industrial lakes town of Perham sits beside tracks that see trains 60 to 70 times every single day, pulling rail safety concerns right into the heart of downtown. Steve Richter/Richter's Men's Wear Owner: "That's pretty standard, yeah. We're on a mainline."
And Steve Richter's Men's Wear shop is just a block away on Main Street.
Richter: "We can really see an increase in traffic. I don't see them, but we certainly hear them and they're moving pretty fast."
These tracks divide Perham's bustling factories from its small businesses, so if something like Casselton struck…
Richter: "We hope and pray that wouldn't happen."
…It could wipe out the entire city.
Kelcey Klemm/Perham City Manager: "We know that it's an issue, it's a risk in town. So even before Casselton, even before the Bakken, we've always been talking about it."
Since the early 90's, Perham's had three derailments of its own and almost 20 rail crossing accidents.
Richter: "We had one of the accidents took out our Depot, but we've been very fortunate that we've come pretty much unscathed."
So many problems these crossings are ranked some of the worst in the state, but new state funding is set for safety improvements at 1st Avenue near Tuffy's.
Richter: "The traffic gets backed up at least three blocks."
…$150,000 to coordinate rail signals with traffic lights, all to avoid backups from the factory.
Klemm: "They have to cross the railroad track at some point. As we have more trucks, we have more trains, it ends up being a greater conflict."
…A small price for safety that could mean the difference between life and death during collisions like this.
Upgrading all of the trouble spots would cost Minnesota $280 million.
In Perham, the Minnesota DOT recommends building an overpass or underpass at its most dangerous cross at 6th Avenue, but that alone comes with a $10 million price tag.