Most of the North Dakota crude oil trains crossing Minnesota no longer pass through west metro suburbs and downtown Minneapolis, according to a railroad route update.
BNSF Railway, the largest Bakken oil hauler, notified Minnesota officials in December that it has shifted crude-by-rail traffic back to its usual route via Detroit Lakes, St. Cloud, Anoka and northeast Minneapolis.
The shift had been expected. BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said Friday that with the end of construction season, traffic is back to more traditional routes.
Over the summer, as BNSF worked on a $326 million system upgrade in Minnesota, it shifted most oil trains — about 11 to 23 per week — to tracks through Willmar, Dassel, Delano, Wayzata and St. Louis Park. This sent trains through the downtown, past Target Field and across Nicollet Island, worrying some local and state officials, including Gov. Mark Dayton.
The downtown oil train traffic tapered off in October, and now has returned to the usual level of 0-3 per week, BNSF reported. Although the report says those trains are “westbound to Willmar,” McBeth said they could be going in either direction.
Overall, the report said, 28 to 48 oil trains pass through Minnesota each week, unchanged since last spring. Each train carries 1 million gallons of Bakken crude oil or more. After leaving Minneapolis, most oil trains pass through St. Paul and into Wisconsin bound for East Coast oil refineries.