About The Rails
The BNSF Railway has two mainline rail tracks and one connection track in Olathe.
The BNSF West Tracks moves approximately 88 trains per day through Olathe. These tracks carry freight from Los Angeles and Longbeach CA to Chicago IL, host to the largest rail yards in the United States
The BNSF East Tracks move approximately 52 long, slow trains per day through Olathe. These tracks carry freight from the coal fields in Montana and Wyoming to power plants in the Southern United States.
The Southgate “Spur” connects the two mainline east/west tracks operating seven to eight trains per day
The Intermodal in Southern Johnson County, near Edgerton KS, lines up geographically with Fort Worth and Alliance TX to the south and with Chicago and Joliet IL to the north. The City of Olathe does not anticipate an increase in rail traffic from the Intermodal facility. However, more truck traffic is anticipated in the southern Johnson County area.
Rough Rail Crossings
Submit an inquiry at BNSF Railway. Your report will be directed to the BNSF Engineering Department to arrange for an inspection at the crossing.
Train horns blow when anyone is observed within 25 feet of all at-grade crossings in Olathe city limits. BNSF provides additional information about train horns.
Train Schedules and Speeds
Rail transportation is legally interstate commerce, an area where the City of Olathe has no jurisdiction including little to no leverage regarding the operation of schedules and speeds for rail traffic. The railroads are accountable to a semi-autonomous government agency, the Federal Railroad Administration.
Rail engines are left to idle to prevent freezing during cold winter months and to keep the brakes pressurized, etc.
Elevating the West Tracks
The cost to construct an elevated rail on the BNSF West Tracks is very high due to the number of private properties that would have to be acquired by the City. Until funding can be identified, a grade separation project for the BNSF West Tracks is not scheduled.
Extending the Quiet Zone
Additional quiet zone projects have not been scheduled. The City will be required to fund the costs of improving the remaining three east mainline and four connection track crossings to qualify for a quiet zone permit from the Federal Railroad Administration.
With future issues to address, it is reasonable to anticipate funding for additional railroad projects will be balanced with additional community needs through the Capital Improvement Program (CIP).
The Olathe City Council has committed millions of dollars to eliminate at-grade railroad crossings in a long-term initiative for Olathe.
- When the 127th Street Viaduct Project was completed in 2007, an additional route was provided for traffic to cross over I-35 and the busy BNSF East Tracks. The cost of the project was $27,000,000.
- When the Railroad Grade Separation Project was completed in 2008, four at-grade crossings were eliminated by elevating the rails in a two-mile stretch over Ridgeview Road, Santa Fe Street, Park Street and Loula Street. The funding and design for this project was planned over a period of ten years at a cost of $42,000,000.
- When the College Boulevard - Woodland Road to Ridgeview Road Project was completed in 2008, another at-grade crossing was eliminated.
- The Downtown Quiet Zone Project constructed safety modifications that allow trains to pass through eleven at-grade crossings without a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requirement to blow train horns. The cost of the project was near $6,000,000.