Highway 2 Railroad Corridor Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and Omaha Public Power District Contract
In August 2020, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad and Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) announced they had signed a new partnership agreement where BNSF would deliver freight to the OPPD power plant near Nebraska City.
Updated April 29, 2021
BNSF Train Travels Through Lincoln to Nebraska City
The rail line parallels Highway 2 in Lincoln and extends southeast to Nebraska City. The rail line has not experienced regular train use since 2003. A new contract between BNSF and OPPD will require this rail line to be utilized to deliver freight to OPPD. This track is owned by BNSF east to 56th Street and OPPD east of 56th Street to Nebraska City.
The BNSF and OPPD agreement went into effect January 1, 2021. BNSF has plans to run approximately 300 trains per year to and from the OPPD plant. This long-term arrangement will continue to provide jobs and boost economic impacts to the community.
Approximately one train per day will run to the plant and return to Lincoln averaging six days a week, but on any given day there could be more than one train or no trains at all. The trains will be about 1.5 miles long or 140 cars in length and operate at speeds of roughly 25 to 30 mph.
BNSF and OPPD have been working with City, County and Railroad Transportation Safety District (RTSD) leaders, to identify and mitigate impacts to the traveling public, businesses and neighborhoods. Some opportunities for coordination and increased safety include:
- Finding ways to relieve traffic congestion and delays at major street crossings
- Increase safety at the railroad street crossings
- Planning for Emergency Service access
- Examining environmental issues and concerns (i.e. noise)
- BNSF, *Operation Lifesaver, City, County and RTSD carried out a public education safety program in December and January to alert and remind travelers of the returning trains.
* Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit organization that provides education on railroad crossing safety.
Local leaders continue to review traffic volumes, patterns and options for managing traffic and pedestrian needs during train operations. They are reviewing opportunities for ideal train travel times to traverse through Lincoln and Lancaster County to minimize traffic congestion. Lincoln Transportation and Utilities (LTU) completed traffic analysis memo has been shared with BNSF and OPPD to coordinate the best management and operational plan and practices.
Emergency and Environmental Plans
Collaboration efforts are being made to identify alternative Emergency Service access when trains are blocking normal emergency routes. This is a routine procedure for all rail lines in Lincoln.
This railroad corridor is currently not designated as a quiet zone. A quiet zone is issued by the federal government to allow trains to not routinely sound their horns in certain areas. The RTSD Board deferred action on a Quiet Zone Study at their December 7 meeting, but at their March 2, 2021 meeting the board authorized a high-level Quiet Zone Study. The Engineering firm of Felsburg Holt & Ullevig (FHU) was selected to do the study from Calvert Street on the west to Yankee Hill Road on the east. The study will identify the required improvements and costs at each crossing to create a quiet zone.
- Railroad Quiet Zones
Ensuring Crossing Safety
Involved parties (BNSF, OPPD, RTSD, City, County) have been reviewing all respective safety equipment, signs and markings at all Lincoln and Lancaster County crossings to determine the appropriateness and adequacy of the measures in place. Recently completed projects to enhance safety include:
Safety gates and lights on Yankee Hill Road between South 84th Street and Highway 2.
Safety gates and lights on Pine Lake Road between South 56th and South 70th streets.
New crossing measures along Highway 2 at South 27th and South 48th streets.
Crossing surface improvements and signal upgrades at South 56th and Old Cheney Road.
OPPD installed new signals, gates and lights and the City widened South 84th Street to accommodate a raised center median on both side of the railroad crossing to meet the new signals just south of Highway 2 on South 84th Street.
BNSF installed new railroad ties and concrete crossing panels at Southwood Drive and Pioneers Boulevard.
All crossings will be evaluated to determine if any additional safety measures are needed.
Lancaster County Engineering is currently studying intersections of the OPPD tracks at South 134th and South 190th streets for any needed improvements.
Report railroad crossing malfunctions to the emergency number posted on the blue sign attached to each crossing pole.
BNSF, Jeff Davis
OPPD, Michaela Valentin
RTSD, Roger Figard
LTU, Dan Carpenter
Ann Ames, Lancaster County
Larry Legg, Lancaster County
PDF Version of Fact Sheet (771 K)