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BNSF delays Devils Lake speed increase

BNSF Railway is holding off on increasing the speed limit of trains passing though Devils Lake, according to Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

The company had planned to double the speed from 30 mph to 60 mph starting Friday.

Hoeven’s office said he spoke with Matt Rose, BNSF executive chairman, on Wednesday afternoon to share the community’s concerns about the increased train speed.

Rose agreed to delay increasing the speed limits, to review the railroad’s plan and to have further discussions with city leaders before proceeding, according to a news release from Hoeven’s office.

“It’s good news for us,” Mayor Dick Johnson said Wednesday night. “We’re certainly glad they’re not going to make the change right now.”

BNSF officials on Monday rejected a proposal from Devils Lake city officials to delay the speed increase.

Johnson said he was grateful Hoeven pushed BNSF to reconsider. “I know Sen. Hoeven was very instrumental in that effort.”

Devils Lake residents are worried about the speed limit increase because there are houses, schools, parks, a daycare and a senior center all near the railroad tracks, the mayor said.

Many children and adults cross the tracks each day, he said.

BNSF’s reasoning behind the speed increase was that the track in Devils Lake has frequent inspections and is built to allow up to 60 mph, according to Hoeven’s news release.

Johnson said he will meet with Rose on Aug. 7 or 8 to further discuss the issue.

“It’s great they’re talking about it more” before making a quick change, he said. “We’re certainly glad they’re taking a look at it.”

Charly Haley

Charly Haley covers city government for the Grand Forks Herald. As night reporter, she also has many general assignments. Before working at the Herald, she was a reporter at the Jamestown Sun and interned at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Detroit Lakes Newspapers and the St. Cloud Times. Haley is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, and her hometown is Sartell, Minn.