Highway 2 Railroad Corridor Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and Omaha Public Power District Contract

Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad and Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) announced they have signed a new partnership agreement where BNSF will deliver freight to the OPPD power plant near Nebraska City.

Updated February 9, 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.

Cooperative Analysis

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.

Traffic Calming

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 will revisit the Quiet Zone at their March 2, 2021 meeting.

Related:
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 27th and 48th streets

Crossing surface improvements and signal upgrades at 56th and Old Cheney Road have been completed

OPPD’s plans to improve the railroad crossing south of Highway 2 on South 84th Street with new signals, gates and lights has been completed and the City’s repaving of South 84th Street with a centerline median to meet the new signals is planned for Spring 2021.

BNSF’s installation of new railroad ties and concrete crossing panels at Southwood Drive and Pioneers Boulevard has been completed.

All crossings will be evaluated to determine if any additional safety measures are needed.

Report railroad crossing malfunctions to the emergency number posted on the blue sign attached to each crossing pole.

Contacts


RTSD
LTU

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