BNSF moves forward with plan to build second bridge at Idaho bottleneck

RELATED TOPICS: WEST | BNSF | INFRASTRUCTURE
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FranzBridge
A BNSF Railway freight train crosses Lake Pend Oreille in 2012.
Justin Franz
SANDPOINT, Idaho — BNSF Railway is designing a second bridge to cross Lake Pend Oreille near Sandpoint, Idaho, a move the railroad hopes will fix a bottleneck on its main line to the Pacific Northwest.

BNSF started the project in 2014 but put it on hold when traffic ebbed. On Tuesday, the railroad announced that the project would be revived and that, in an effort to gain information for the new bridge’s design, load testing will begin on the north end of the existing bridge in the middle of May. The work will require at least two piles to be driven into the ground on BNSF property.

Officials say that the railroad still needs to get the formal permits for the bridge project and that no construction is expected to occur in 2017.

“Bringing (this bridge project) forward now allows us to adequately handle current and future rail traffic,” says BNSF spokesperson Gus Melonas. “When the overall project is complete, trains will be able to run in both directions across the (lake), reducing the need for engineers to slow down or stop as they wait for clearance to cross. This is the equivalent to adding a lane on a highway; it allows for a more fluid flow of current traffic.”

The current bridge over Lake Pend Oreille was built for the Northern Pacific in 1905 and was closed twice in 2016 for emergency repairs.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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