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Back on track: Train gate fixed after accident

Photo by Dain Sullivan Burlington Northern Santa Fe workers redirect traffic and replace a railroad crossing gate near the intersection of Jefferson Street and Highway 10 in Wadena on Monday, after a semi-truck broke the gate.

Unfortunate timing is most likely what caused a semi-truck to break a railroad crossing gate in Wadena on Monday, Wadena Police Chief Bruce Uselman said.

Uselman added that a truck driver thought he had enough time to clear the tracks near the intersection of Jefferson Street and Highway 10, but the railroad crossing arm descended onto his trailer and broke off.

"As traffic piles up, the arms come down and you're not able to clear the arms without damaging them," he said. "That's why the arms are designed to break away."

Burlington Northern Santa Fe workers were sent to replace the broken arm shortly after 2:30 p.m. Monday, BNSF employee Jake May said. May and three other workers directed traffic and fixed the arm shortly after the accident occurred.

Uselman said no one was injured or cited in the accident, which reflects a fairly common problem.

"We get calls all the time with trucks that take the arms off," he said. "Sometimes the drivers misjudge."

The semi driver involved in the accident reported it immediately after he crossed the tracks, Wadena Police Dispatcher Sharon Roberts said.

While Uselman sees Monday's incident as a freak accident, he said the driver would have been at fault if he had driven through the railroad crossing when the arms were completely lowered.

Amy McBeth, public affairs director for BNSF, said the company will flip the bill for repairs. Labor and a new gate were estimated to cost about $500, she added.