Blaine received a $9.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for preliminary work on a major upgrade to the Bell Road railroad crossing at the south end of the city.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, the lead Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced the award on Wednesday, June 28.
The grant will pay for initial design of the road project, along with property acquisition and an environmental review. The work, to be completed by 2032, includes constructing an overpass over Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks at Bell Road, realigning nearby Interstate 5 ramps and rebuilding Dakota Creek Bridge.
“Blaine can begin to resolve issues at the Bell Road at-grade crossing that I heard about more than 20 years ago, when I was a freshman member of Congress,” Larsen said in his announcement. “I am excited this critical project is advancing to improve safety and accessibility, reduce congestion, create more jobs and keep the regional economy moving.”
Blaine received the grant after Larsen recommended it in a June 9 letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
Without an overpass, pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers on Bell Road — including first responders — sometimes face long delays at the railroad tracks due to slow-moving trains crossing the border with Canada, Blaine City Manager Mike Harmon said.
The $9.5 million grant covers a fraction of the total project cost, which Harmon said was an estimated $85 million. The work is not yet fully funded.
“The city will look at any and all funding sources, including federal and state grants, and partnerships with private entities like BNSF,” Harmon said.