The last barrier to trains passing through town at the new track speed limit of 60 mph was removed last week when Canadian Pacific Railway crews finished installing new crossing arms and lights at Myrtle Drive S. Canadian Pacific announced last September that the speed limit for trains on the track had been increased from 40 mph to 60 mph in Annandale and South Haven. That speed increase was not immediately apparent in town because trains have been observing the old speed limit of 40 mph until the new safety equipment could be installed at Myrtle Drive.
A review of the safety needs at each crossing in town last year by the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s rail devision determined that cross arms were necessary at Myrtle Drive but not at Minnesota Pioneer Park, which is now the only crossing within city limits that does not have lights and safety arms. Officials said the sightlines were clear enough at that location that cross arms were not needed.
Police Chief Jeff Herr said that during his 23 years with the city he could only recall three collisions involving a train and a vehicle, and there have not been any deaths. At least one of those incidents did occur at the Minnesota Pioneer Park crossing, however.
The railroad reported last fall that about 12 to 15 trains pass through the corridor in a given 24-hour period, and that the lights and cross arms at the other crossings in the area have been adjusted to provide adequate warning of faster oncoming trains. Track upgrades in recent years, including a major tie replacement effort, have paved the way for increased speeds.