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Crossing Treatment Procedures

State Laws and Regulations

161.20. General powers of commissioner

Subdivision 1. Provisions of constitution. The commissioner shall carry out the provisions of article 14, section 2, of the Constitution of the state of Minnesota.

Subd. 2. Property acquisition; agreements and contracts. (a) The commissioner is authorized:

(1) to acquire by purchase, gift, or by eminent domain proceedings as provided by law, in fee or such lesser estate as the commissioner deems necessary, all lands and properties necessary in preserving future trunk highway corridors or in laying out, constructing, maintaining, and improving the trunk highway system including recreational vehicle lanes; to locate, construct, reconstruct, improve, and maintain the trunk highway system; to purchase all road material, machinery, tools, and supplies necessary for the construction, maintenance, and improvement thereof; to construct necessary buildings, or rent or acquire by purchase, gift, or condemnation, grounds and buildings necessary for the storing and housing of such material, machinery, tools, and supplies or necessary for office space for employees; to maintain, repair, or remodel such buildings as may be necessary;

(2) to acquire by purchase, gift, or condemnation, replacement sites for historically significant buildings or structures and to relocate these buildings or structures onto those sites, reconstructing and maintaining them until disposed of through public sale to the highest responsible bidder;

(3) to make agreements with any county for the relocation or reestablishment, by the county, of section, quarter section, or meander corners originally established by the United States, when such relocation or reestablishment is necessary in order to write land acquisition descriptions or by reason of the construction, reconstruction, improvement, or maintenance of a trunk highway;

(4) to contract on an equitable basis with railroad companies for the installation and reinstallation of safety devices at trunk highway-railroad grade crossings, and for the construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of bridges and approaches existing or necessary for the separation of grades at railroad and trunk highway intersections; and

(5) in carrying out duties, to let all necessary contracts in the manner prescribed by law.

(b) The commissioner may make agreements with and cooperate with any governmental authority for the purpose of effectuating the provisions of this chapter.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 161.20

219.14. Railroad crossing protected

Subdivision 1. Investigation. The commissioner of transportation on the commissioner’s own motion may investigate and determine whether a railroad crossing over a street or public highway, that is or will be opened to public travel, is or will be dangerous to life or property. The commissioner may order the crossing protected in any manner the commissioner finds reasonable and proper, including requiring the company to separate the grades.

Subd. 2. Hearing. The commissioner shall give the interested railroad company and road authority notice of the investigation as the commissioner deems reasonable, and an opportunity to be heard before an order is made.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 219.14

219.39. Dangerous crossing; complaint, hearing

Upon written complaint authorized by the governing body of a city or county, by the board of supervisors of a town, or by authorized officers of a subject railroad, alleging that a railroad crossing a street, road, or highway in the city, town, or county is dangerous to life and property, and giving the reasons for the allegations, the commissioner shall investigate the matters contained in the complaint and, when necessary, initiate a hearing.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 219.39

219.074. Grade crossing change, vacation

Subdivision 1. Agreement; hearing. Public officials having the necessary authority and a railway company operating the railroad may agree to the vacation, relocation, consolidation, or separation of grades at grade crossings. If agreement cannot be reached concerning the location, manner of construction, or a reasonable division of expense, either party may file a petition with the commissioner, setting forth the facts and submitting the matter to it for determination. The commissioner shall then conduct a hearing under chapter 14 and shall apply the rules developed under section 219.073 in coming to a determination. The commissioner may also bring matters concerning vacation, relocation, consolidation, or separation of grades at public grade crossings to the commissioner for determination. If the commissioner determines that the vacation, relocation, consolidation, or separation is consistent with the standards adopted under section 219.073, the commissioner may order the crossing vacated, relocated, consolidated, or separated.

Subd. 2. Crossing vacation program. On or before July 1, 1992, and on or before July 1 of each of the next four years, and as necessary afterward, the commissioner shall develop a list of grade crossings proposed to be vacated. The list must be developed by applying the standards set forth in the rules adopted under section 219.073. Grade crossings that are part of an abandonment, closing, or removal may not be included in the list. The commissioner shall notify the public officials having the necessary authority and the railway companies operating the railroads of the proposed vacations. Either affected party may request a hearing. If requested, the commissioner shall hold a contested case hearing applying in the commissioner’s determination the rules developed under section 219.073. If after the hearing the commissioner determines that the vacation is consistent with the standards adopted under section 219.073, the commissioner may order the crossing vacated. If a request for a hearing on a particular crossing is not received within 30 days of the publication in the State Register, the commissioner shall order the crossing vacated.

Subd. 3. Crossing inventory. By December 31, 1993, the commissioner shall complete an inventory of all public and private grade crossings in the state and shall annually revise the inventory to reflect grade crossing changes made under this section.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 219.074

Blocked Crossings

State Laws, Regulations, and Penalties

219.383. Safe operation of train over road; penalty

Subdivision 1. Speed fixed. The commissioner of transportation, on petition of a city council or a railway corporation, may fix and determine after a hearing a reasonable speed for the operation of an engine or train on and over a railroad crossing of a public highway or street in that city.

Subd. 2. Maximum speed. Where the commissioner has fixed the speed of an engine or train over a public highway or street crossing in a city as provided in this section, the fixed speed is the lawful maximum speed at which an engine or train may be operated on and over that public highway or street crossing, until changed by subsequent order of the commissioner.

Subd. 3. Not to block public road or street. No railway corporation shall permit a public road or street crossing a railroad track to be closed for traffic by a standing car, train, engine, or other railroad equipment, or by a switching movement which continuously blocks a crossing for longer than ten minutes. This subdivision does not apply to cities of the first class which regulate obstruction of streets by ordinance.

Subd. 4. Penalty. A railway corporation violating this section is guilty of a petty misdemeanor. A corporation that commits a second or subsequent violation of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 219.383

Warning Devices-Passive

State Laws and Regulations

219.06. Signs at crossings

A railroad company shall maintain, wherever its lines cross a public road, a proper and conspicuous sign indicating the crossing. A railroad company failing to comply with this section shall forfeit to the town or municipality having charge of the road $10 for each day the failure continues.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 219.06

219.20. Stop sign; yield sign

Subdivision 1. When installation required; procedure. At each grade crossing not equipped with flashing lights or flashing lights and gates where, because of the dangers attendant upon its use, the reasonable protection of life and property makes it necessary for persons approaching the crossing to stop or yield before crossing the railroad tracks, stop signs or yield signs must be installed. When the government entity responsible for a road that crosses a railroad track deems it necessary to install stop signs or yield signs at that crossing, it shall petition the commissioner to order the installation of the stop signs or yield signs. The commissioner shall respond to the petition by investigating the conditions at the crossing to determine whether stop signs or yield signs should be installed at the crossing. On determining, after an investigation following a petition from a governmental agency or subdivision or on the commissioner’s own motion, that stop signs or yield signs should be installed at a crossing, the commissioner shall designate the crossing as a stop crossing or yield crossing and shall notify the railway company operating the railroad at the crossing of this designation. Within 30 days after notification, the railway company shall erect the uniform stop crossing signs or yield crossing signs in accordance with the commissioner’s order.

Subd. 2. Stopping distances. When a stop sign or a yield sign has been erected at a railroad crossing, the driver of a vehicle approaching a railroad crossing shall stop or yield within 50 feet, but not less than ten feet, from the nearest track of the crossing and shall proceed only upon exercising due care.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 219.20

219.17. Uniform warning signs

The commissioner by rule shall require that uniform warning signs be placed at grade crossings. There are four distinct types of uniform warning signs: a crossbuck sign, for use in the immediate vicinity of the crossing; an advance warning sign, to indicate the approach to a grade crossing; a yield sign with the word “yield” plainly appearing on it; and, when deemed necessary and instead of a yield sign, a stop sign with the word “stop” plainly appearing on it, to indicate that persons on the highway approaching the crossing, whether in vehicles or otherwise, must come to a stop before proceeding over the grade crossing.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 219.17

Warning Devices- Train Borne

State Laws, Regulations, and Penalties

219.567. Failure to ring bell

An engineer driving a locomotive on a railway who fails to ring the bell or sound the whistle on the locomotive, or have it rung or sounded in accordance with Federal Railroad Administration regulations under United States Code, title 49, section 20153, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 219.567

Warning Devices- Active

State Laws and Regulations

219.24. Additional safeguard

If the commissioner of transportation finds in an investigation instituted upon the commissioner’s own motion or upon complaint and after notice and hearing, that conditions at a grade crossing require additional safeguards to protect life and property, such as crossing gates or other suitable devices, the commissioner shall specify the nature of the devices required and may order the railway company operating the railroad at the crossing to install them.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 219.24

Private Crossings

State Laws and Regulations

219.165. Safety rules for private railroad grade crossing

By December 31, 1992, the commissioner shall adopt rules establishing minimum safety standards at all private railroad grade crossings in the state.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 219.165

219.13. Farm crossing

A railroad company constructing a railroad so as to leave parts of a farm on different sides of the road shall construct a proper farm crossing at some place convenient for that farm.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 219.13

219.35. Crossing and drain

Persons owning lands abutting upon a railroad may construct, at their own expense, crossings under, over, or across the railroad and drains under and across the railroad at places and in ways that do not obstruct or impair the use of the railroad. Before constructing them, the owner of the land shall serve on the nearest station agent of the company a notice, stating in detail the work which the landowner desires to perform, and the company may construct that work; but the crossings and drains may not be opened for the use of the landowner until the landowner pays the reasonable cost of construction. These crossings and drains must be maintained and kept in repair by the railroad company; however, the railroad may require reimbursement from the abutting landowners of its reasonable and accountable maintenance and repair costs when maintenance and repair are initiated by the landowner and agreed to in advance by the railroad company. The railroad company shall ensure, allow, and not prohibit reasonable egress and ingress under, over, and across a crossing except as may be required for maintenance of the crossing or for normal operation of the railroad.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 219.35

Vegetation Clearance

State Laws, Regulations, and Penalties

219.384. Removal of dangerous obstruction

Subdivision 1. Removal ordered. If a railroad company, road authority, or abutting property owner fails to control the growth of trees or vegetation or the placement of structures or other obstructions on its right-of-way or property so as to interfere with the safety of the public traveling on a public or private grade crossing, the local governing body of the town or municipality where the grade crossing is located may, by notice, require the obstruction to be removed as necessary to provide an adequate view of oncoming trains at the crossings. The commissioner shall adopt rules establishing minimum standards for visibility at public and private grade crossings.

Subd. 2. Penalty. A railroad company, road authority, or property owner that fails to comply with this section within 30 days after being notified in writing is subject to a fine of $50 for each day that the condition is uncorrected. This penalty may be recovered in the manner provided in section 219.97, subdivision 5.

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 219.384