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Dave Olson, Published April 16 2013

Moorhead moves closer to addressing long waits for trains

MOORHEAD – If you’re tired of long waits at Moorhead train crossings, you’re not alone.

City Council members feel your pain, and on Monday night they welcomed news that things could get better before the end of the year.

What will help?

Software and other improvements Moorhead is looking to incorporate into the system that controls traffic lights when trains are rolling through town or heading for town.

Currently, wait times at intersections can seem to take forever, especially when it appears a train has cleared an area or is still a long way away.

City officials said the planned improvements, developed with the help of consulting firm Campbell Technologies Corp., aim to minimize how long vehicles have to sit at red lights when trains are in the area.

Plans include software known as Voyage, as well as circuitry changes at crossing arms.

The city is also looking at establishing flashing yellow arrows for left turns.

A flashing yellow arrow means a left turn is permitted, but drivers must yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

City Engineer Bob Zimmerman said the city hopes to have much of the work completed before the end of the year.

Sandbags ready

Also Monday, council members received a flood preparation update from City Manager Michael Redlinger, who said the approximately 400,000 sandbags the city has been storing for two years are largely thawed “and ready to go.”

He said the city is waiting for a deterministic flood forecast from the National Weather Service that will help determine how or whether the bags will need to be used.

In other business, the council heard an update on a river corridor study that is exploring how the metro area can enhance recreational areas along the Red River.

On the Moorhead side of the river, hundreds of home buyouts have created opportunities and challenges, council members said.

The opportunities include an enhanced ability to create a continuous zone along the river for things like walking and bike paths.

Challenges, officials said, include prioritizing which projects to do and finding the money to do them, as well as to cover the cost of ongoing maintenance of new green spaces.

“We’ve got a lot on our plate for the city right now,” council member Nancy Otto said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555