Repaired railroad almost ready for train traffic in Barron Count - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Repaired railroad almost ready for train traffic in Barron County

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- In one part of Wisconsin, frac sand is engineering a rebirth of train traffic.  We haven't seen trains running between Barron and Ladysmith for more than a decade.  That's about to change and because of that, a message of safety is being preached well ahead of that first train on the tracks.

"Everybody around town has presumably seen the work going on all summer and all fall and that work is getting ready to wrap up," Canadian National Railways Spokesman Patrick Waldron points out.  "By mid-month, we expect to be seeing regular train service returning to Barron and Rusk Counties."

Canadian National spent $35 million this year to fix the rail line so that Superior Silica Sands can use it to ship its frac sand.  The company says one train will be going through Barron County in each direction every day, going about 25 miles per hour, with more than 50 cars to a train.

"Even the people that remember the trains through Barron County, they came through very slow," says Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald.  "These trains are going to be moving faster.  The track has been upgraded."

Canadian National is holding public meetings to stress safety around the tracks.

"People should always be prepared to see a train and always use caution as they cross those tracks," Waldron says.

"We don't want it to be a news story saying there's been a bad crash and that's what gets people to recognize it.  We want people to recognize this issue right now," points out Fitzgerald.

Canadian National says it's placed about 50 railroad crossing signs along Highway 8 in Barron County to let the public know that the railroad is back.

"The public has not been used to any activity on there so this is going to be new and it will be a change for people," says Barron County resident Gary Nelson.

More than 50 warning signs will be spread out across Highway 8.  There will also be one warning light and two crossing arms.  The company believes trains will begin running in mid-December.  Canadian National was asked if a schedule has been set.  The company said not yet.

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