SANDPOINT, IDAHO – BNSF Railway’s inaugural train trip across the new Sandpoint Junction Connector rail bridge took place over the weekend, marking the last step of the project more than a decade in the making. Sunday’s trip represents the official opening of two-way traffic on the bridge, which crosses Lake Pend Oreille. This final configuration allows both lines to now carry freight simultaneously, benefitting BNSF’s customers and the passenger trains that run on BNSF’s main line.
To meet the growing needs of the communities BNSF serves, BNSF began constructing a second bridge over the lake in 2019, adjacent to the existing bridge. The two bridges run parallel to each other, approximately 50 feet apart.
The new rail bridge completed in late 2022 and opened to rail service in November, nearly a year ahead of schedule. Completion of the new bridge allowed BNSF to begin a modernization project on the original bridge, built in 1904. It has been under construction since last year and closed for maintenance upgrades until now. New bridges over Sand Creek and Bridge Street in Sandpoint were also constructed.
“The completion of this bridge is a big win for our customers and the community, especially before the start of the fall harvest season,” said John Cech, vice president of engineering for BNSF. “This milestone is thanks to many team members spanning across multiple departments who collaborated to help improve the consistency of our service. This bridge will be critical moving forward to address our long-term growth and will allow us to meet customer expectations for the next century or more.”
These upgrades will reduce congestion and help move current and future freight traffic more efficiently, significantly reducing idle times for trains. Drivers should see shorter wait times on nearby roads and streets that cross BNSF tracks.
BNSF thanks the community for their patience as the team worked to complete this important work as safely and efficiently as possible.
To learn more about the Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, visit keepsandpointrolling.com.