Sandpoint Junction
Connector Project

Project Updates

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September 2022

Construction of the new Sandpoint Junction Connector bridge is running ahead of schedule. Crews recently completed the bridge girders, curbs, and decks and will continue to lay track, as well as tackle miscellaneous items like waterproofing and handrails through September and October. In November, we plan to put the new bridge into service and begin…

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Project Overview

Freight rail plays an important role in the regional economy, transporting goods and commodities we all use every day.

To meet the growing needs of the communities we serve, BNSF is building a second rail bridge over Lake Pend Oreille adjacent to the existing rail bridge. We are also building new bridges over Sand Creek and Bridge Street in Sandpoint.

The upgrades will reduce congestion and help move our current freight traffic and future volumes more efficiently; this benefits all the products we carry and the passenger trains that run on our main line.

When the second bridge is completed, trains will run in both directions, reducing the need to idle while waiting to cross the existing single track. As a result, local drivers could see shorter wait times on nearby roads that cross BNSF tracks, and the flow of freight and passenger trains will be improved throughout the region.

Existing Sandpoint Bridge

Current single track over Lake Pend Oreille
Current single track over Lake Pend Oreille
  • The current bridge is 4,769 feet long, or about 3/4 of a mile
  • In Sandpoint, BNSF’s mainline track merges with Montana Rail Link, creating a bottleneck of multiple tracks merging into a single track across Lake Pend Oreille
  • Since only one train can cross at a time, trains are often staged, leaving them idling and blocking local roadways while waiting to cross

Key Benefits of the Second Bridge

Sandpoint Junction Connector Project Map
  • This project will enhance the movement of freight in the region, reducing congestion and benefiting commerce
  • Trains running in both directions across the bridges will reduce the need for engineers to slow down or stop as they wait for clearance to cross
  • Drivers could see shorter wait times on nearby roads and streets that cross BNSF tracks
  • It is expected that locomotive emissions will be reduced as trains will not be idling as much or “powering up” to resume travel in the Sandpoint area
Sandpoint Bridge aerial rendering
Aerial perspective rendering of double track over Lake Pend Oreille
Rendering of expanded bridge from Bridge Street
Sandpoint Bridge rendering from Hwy 95
Rendering of expanded bridge from Hwy 95

BNSF Plays an Important Role
in the Idaho Economy

  • BNSF helps deliver to Idaho retailers and businesses a wide variety of consumer products, including packaged goods, clothing, appliances, electronics, and automobiles
  • BNSF is one of the largest grain-hauling railroads in the United States, hauling enough grain to supply 900 million people with a year’s supply of bread
  • A new car or truck is loaded onto or unloaded from a BNSF automotive train approximately every 11 seconds

Each year BNSF transports:

  • Enough lumber to build more than 500,000 homes
  • Enough asphalt to lay a single-lane road two times around the equator
  • Enough coiled sheet steel to lay the unrolled coils end to end 12 times between New York City and Seattle
  • Nearly 1.5 million carloads of freight in Idaho

BNSF In Idaho

Employees: 368
Combined Payroll: $29,813,136
Route Miles: 139

About BNSF Railway

BNSF Railway is one of North America’s top transporters of consumer goods, grain and agricultural products, industrial products, housing materials, automobiles, food, and beverages. Our shipments help feed, clothe, supply, and power American homes and businesses every day.

BNSF is also one of the most technologically advanced and efficient railroads in the industry. We work continuously to improve the value of the safety, service, energy, and environmental benefits we provide to our customers and the communities we serve.