THE BISMARCK
BRIDGE PROJECT

Project Updates

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December 2023

As we wrap up 2023, here’s what’s happened to date: Crews mobilized this spring and started project work with clearing trees on BNSF property on both sides of the river.  An access road was constructed on ND Department of Transportation right of way for trucks hauling equipment and material. The embankment for the new bridge,…

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Project Overview

Freight rail plays an important role in North Dakota by safely and efficiently connecting families and businesses with the products they use every day.

Bridge Overview Render

Since the late 1800s, the existing BNSF railway bridge over the Missouri River that connects Bismarck and Mandan, North Dakota, has helped spur growth and support regional economies. But after 140 years of dutiful service, the bridge is approaching the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced to ensure that freight moves efficiently and safely through the region and that the Bismarck–Mandan area continues to thrive.  

Keeping with our commitment to the state and local communities, BNSF Railway is building a new rail bridge adjacent to the existing bridge. The new single-track bridge will support heavier loads, which will better meet our customers’ needs. Keeping the future in mind, the bridge is designed to accommodate potential expansion of a second track to continue supporting efficient freight travel while limiting impact to the Missouri River ecosystem and local communities for generations to come. 

Once the new bridge begins servicing trains, the existing structure will be removed.  

ORIGINAL BISMARCK RAIL BRIDGE

  • Built by Northern Pacific Railway Company from 1880–1883 
  • Predates official North Dakota statehood by six years; first bridge built across the Missouri River in the Bismarck-Mandan area
  • Original truss spans constructed in 1883 were replaced in 1905
  • Granite pier structures are the only original bridge elements that remain
  • 1,470 feet long
  • Vertical and horizontal clearances limit the size and type of rail cars that can use it

KEY BENEFITS OF THE NEW BRIDGE

  • Built to last 100+ years
  • Ability to move taller and wider commodities in heavier rail cars
  • Able to support industries’ future transportation needs 
  • Allows safer inspections by railroad employees because of new design
  • Improves efficient train movements through Bismarck by returning the speed on the bridge to match the speed trains currently travel through town
  • Eliminates degradation concerns with original bridge; reduces service outages for customers
  • Maintains safe, reliable rail crossing over the Missouri River

BNSF’S COMMITMENT TO
NORTH DAKOTA

For nearly a century and a half, BNSF Railway has played an important role in North Dakota’s economy. BNSF’s 32,500-mile network links North Dakota’s agriculture, energy, and other industries to domestic and international markets. 

Moving the state’s commodities safely and efficiently requires ongoing investment in BNSF’s privately owned rail infrastructure, which includes its bridge in Bismarck and Mandan. BNSF has invested more than $1.5 billion in its network in North Dakota over the last decade. BNSF has more than 1,100+ employees in North Dakota earning a combined payroll of nearly $100 million a year.