Ask a Chief: Elk River Police Chief Brad Rolfe

Q: There is a Do Not Cross Tracks on Red traffic sign posted at the intersection of Jackson Avenue and Railroad Drive in Elk River, right before the railroad tracks. I have recently noticed a lot of drivers crossing the tracks on a red to turn right onto westbound Highway 10. Is it okay to cross the tracks if you want to turn right since there is not a NO TURN ON RED sign posted? I’ve always thought do not cross tracks meant everyone. Could you please clarify?
A: The “Do Not Cross Tracks on Red” sign posted at the Jackson Avenue crossing is a legally posted traffic control device and means exactly what it says.  Drivers are prohibited from crossing the tracks when facing a

Elk River Police Chief Brad Rolfe

red semaphore, even to make a right turn.  One of the issues faced if drivers cross the tracks on red is the danger of stacking vehicles while waiting to make a right turn.  There is  the potential that a vehicle will not be able to pull far enough forward to fully clear the tracks due to other vehicles stopped in front.  The police department does enforce the restriction and has issued citations to drivers who ignore the sign.
As long as we are talking about crossing railroad tracks, users of the Northstar Commuter Rail are reminded that it is illegal to cross the tracks at the station once the signals are activated, even if the commuter train is stopped at the station.  The other tracks remain active to through traffic and there have been several close calls when commuters running to catch their train have run across the path of an approaching through train.  Signs have recently been posted at the crossing and Elk River Police Department or Metro Transit Police Department officers can issue citations.
Please play it safe around railroad crossings.  You will always lose in a close encounter with a train.
— Brad Rolfe, Elk River police chief

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