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Minnesota Town Turns Down Railroad Bribe for Crossing Closure

(Blue Earth, Minnesota – November 7, 2011)

“Thanks, but no thanks,” was the reply of the city of Blue Earth, MN to a deal from Union Pacific Railroad and the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation that would have added gates to one crossing in exchange for closure of another.

Similar circumstances had occurred several years ago when the Third Street crossing was closed and gates were added at Seventh Street. UPRR wanted to close Sixth Street and add gates at Fifth Street, but the City would have been responsible for 10% of the estimated $300,000 cost of the gate installation, while receiving $15,000 from UP for the crossing closure.

Not only would the deal put Blue Earth $15,000 in the hole, but also school transportation would have suffered. The Blue Earth Area Schools utilize both Fifth and Sixth Streets to route buses before and after school, and limiting traffic to only one side of the school would have been an impossible situation.

MnDOT said that, due to a fatality at the Fifth Street crossing in December, 2006, the city “might be considered for gates on Fifth Street by 2016,” – a decade after the fatal accident.