Sandpoint Junction
Connector Project

Project Updates

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November 2022

The new rail bridge over Lake Pend Oreille is now complete. Trains have started traveling across the new BNSF bridge as of November 20, nearly a year ahead of schedule. Completion of the new rail bridge also facilitates maintenance activities, including a modernization project on the original rail bridge. The existing bridge will be closed…

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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 Railway built a second rail bridge over Lake Pend Oreille adjacent to the existing rail bridge, as well as new bridges over Sand Creek and Bridge Street in Sandpoint.

The upgrades help reduce congestion and 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.

BNSF is also in the process of a modernization project on the original rail bridge, which will be closed while crews perform this work. Once improvements are finished, both bridges will be open for rail traffic, reducing idle times for trains crossing Lake Pend Oreille.

Original Sandpoint Bridge

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

Key Benefits of the Second Bridge

Sandpoint Junction Connector Project Map
  • Once a modernization project on the original rail bridge is complete, trains will run in both directions across the bridges, enhancing the movement of freight in the region, reducing congestion, and benefiting commerce
  • 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.