Eastbound crude oil trains from North Dakota are no longer passing through western 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.
Eastbound oil trains on this route tapered off in October, and now have ended, BNSF reported. Up to three weekly oil trains still go westbound on that route from Minneapolis to Willmar, which has connections to a southbound line, the report said.
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, oil trains pass through St. Paul and into Wisconsin bound for East Coast oil refineries.