East Grand Forks' railroad quiet zone preliminary engineering services agreement approved by council

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Aug. 16—EAST GRAND FORKS — A preliminary engineering services agreement between the city of East Grand Forks and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway for a railroad quiet zone near Sacred Heart School received unanimous City Council approval Tuesday evening.

Last week, council members reviewed the agreement

, which allows BNSF to hire a subcontractor who will provide engineering services to review the plans and prepare a detailed diagnostic review of crossing upgrades and enclosures. The consultant services will cost an estimated $34,885, which would be at the city's expense.

City Attorney Ron Galstad last week had concerns about the agreement, including that the consultant is 100% city expense; that language within the agreement states BNSF isn't obligated to perform the quiet zone agreement; and that maintenance of the quiet zone equipment is at no cost to BNSF. Galstad's concerns notwithstanding, City Administrator David Murphy recommended council members move forward with it, since negotiating a better agreement would be difficult because BNSF doesn't officially endorse quiet zones.

The railroad quiet zone will encompass the crossings at Third Street Northwest, Central Avenue Northwest and Second Avenue Northeast.

In other news Tuesday, council members:

* Adopted a resolution urging Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to declare a special session for lawmakers to work to pass a bonding bill and tax bill that includes a Local Government Aid increase. The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities has asked cities to pass the resolution, which once adopted and signed would be submitted to the governor and leaders in the state House and Senate.

* Approved awarding bids for several street, sewer and sidewalk improvements to Opp Construction. The improvements will be made on Gateway-North Frontage Road in the amount of $34,650, Second Street Northwest in the amount of $46,148 and on Third Avenue Southeast in the amount of $28,775. The repairs entail street panel, curb and gutter and sidewalk repairs/replacement, along with storm sewer and sanitary sewer catch basin and manhole repairs.

* Appointed Galstad, Murphy and City Council members Tim Riopelle, Brian Larson and Mark Olstad to a committee for review of information regarding an asphalt plant RJ Zavoral & Sons plans to build and operate in East Grand Forks. The review comes as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency announced in a press release last month that RJ Zavoral & Sons exceeded air emission limits for a portable asphalt plant and failed to test equipment while working on a project in Pennington County. Findings from the review will be brought back to the council on a later date.