Freight Plan

Photograph of a freeway with various vehicles, including a large freight truck

Freight Plan Overview

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is developing a Freight Plan for MnDOT District 4, a 12 county area in west-central Minnesota. The freight plan will provide a clear understanding of multimodal freight transportation in the region, how local businesses use the transportation system, and the needs and issues for local freight industries and communities. The findings will help MnDOT integrate freight improvements in future construction projects and prioritize future freight related projects for funding.

The District 4 Freight Plan will:

  1. Assess freight needs and issues specific to District 4
  2. Identify strategies to improve freight mobility in West Central Minnesota
  3. Compile data and findings to include in the next State Freight Plan

Visit the following links for more information on MnDOT and freight planning:


An icon of a graph, illustrating data summary Summarize existing freight data
Jan-June 2021
An icon of a magnifying glass, illustrating analysis Analyze freight issues and needs
July-Sept 2021
An icon of a truck, illustrating freight, as a concept Identify strategies to improve freight mobility
Oct 2021-Jan 2022
An icon of a clipboard, illustrating an evaluation Evaluate draft District 4 Freight Plan
Jan 2022
An icon of a check mark, illustrating a completed plan Finalize District 4 Freight Plan
Feb 2022
Phases we will be seeking public input

Public Involvement

Your input on the District 4 Freight Plan will help MnDOT identify freight system needs and issues and evaluate the draft freight-related policies and programs that impact your community.

Stay tuned for future opportunities to provide feedback for the District 4 Freight Plan!

District 4 Overview

Map of District 4

MnDOT is split up operationally into regional districts. MnDOT District 4 covers west-central Minnesota and includes:

12 counties:

Big Stone
Otter Tail

Key cities:

Fergus Falls
Detroit Lakes
To request a MnDOT document in an alternative format email your request to ADArequest.dot@state.mn.us

Economy and workforce

The District 4 economy is strongly supported by industries that rely on the transportation of goods, due in part to the significance of agriculture and manufacturing industries. Looking into the future, an aging workforce and plateauing population growth could impact the District’s economy and transportation system, as employees may be increasingly difficult to find. MnDOT’s 2015 Manufacturers’ Perspectives Study found:

Icon depicting a dollar billFreight-related industries contribute to 37% of District 4’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Icon depicting a briefcaseFreight-related industries employ 38% of the workforce in District 4
Icon depicting a group of people
Since 2010, District 4’s population has increased by 4%

District 4 Freight System Overview

District 4’s major freight transportation investments primarily focus on highways and railroads. However, goods are moved by multiple modes in District 4, including:

A photo of a freight truck on the road.Roads
A photo of a freight train.Railroads
A photo of a plane.Aviation
A photo of a pipeline.Pipelines

The District 4 multimodal freight transportation system includes:

Icon depicting an interstate on-ramp115Miles of Interstate
Icon depicting a car1,557Miles of US and State highways
Icon depicting railroad tracks668Miles of Rail
Icon depicting a bridge1,710Bridges greater than 10 ft.
Icon depicting an airplane18Public Airports
Icon depicting a pipe646Miles of Pipelines

District 4 Multimodal Freight Transportation System Map

To request a MnDOT document in an alternative format email your request to ADArequest.dot@state.mn.us


Population Centers
  • Town
  • City
  • Key Airports
  • Class I Rail
  • Class III Rail
  • Crude Oil
  • Petroleum Products
  • HGL
  • Natural Gas
  • Interstate
  • US Highway
  • MN Highway
  • MnDOT District 4


Icon depicting a truck
88%of the goods moved in the District are carried by truck
A photo depicting a freight truck

Challenges for trucking services in the District include:

Icon depicting a crashing car
15 locationsalong the District’s roadway network were identified as sustained high crash locations due to significantly higher number of crashes resulting in deaths or serious injuries
Icon depicting a road sign
Lack of signagefor truck routes, access points, and intersections that affect truck safety and efficiency

The key truck corridors in District 4 include:

I-94 Icon
Average Daily Traffic (2019):
23,000 Vehicles
3,950 Trucks

I-94 is the only interstate highway in District 4. It is a major east-west corridor and spans from Michigan to Montana.

US-10 Icon
Average Daily Traffic (2019):
12,150 Vehicles
1,040 Trucks

US-10 is an east-west corridor in the Midwest and spans from Michigan to North Dakota.

US-59 Icon
Average Daily Traffic (2019):
4,250 Vehicles
377 Trucks

US-59 is a north-south corridor that connects many freight-related business centers in District 4. It spans from Canada and Texas.

US-12 Icon
Average Daily Traffic (2019):
3,380 Vehicles
380 Trucks

US-12 runs east-west and spans from Wisconsin and Washington.

US-75 Icon
Average Daily Traffic (2019):
5,461 Vehicles
341 Trucks

US-75 runs north-south and spans from Minnesota to Texas.


Icon depicting a railroad track


of railroad tracks in District 4
Icon depicting a railroad crossing gate


highway-railroad grade crossings in the District
Icon depicting a railroad crossing sign


of crossings have signals

Challenges for rail services in the District include:

Icon depicting a train crash
There are16 high-crashrailroad crossings in District 4, primarily in Otter Tail and Swift counties
Icon depicting a train
Infrastructure constraints,lack of intermodal service, positive train control implementation, and hazmat transport are top issues for both the District’s and the State’s rail network

Railroad operators in District 4 include

Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Canadian Pacific Red River Valley and Western Otter Tail Valley

Hwy 10/75 - Proposed Downtown Moorhead Railroad Crossing Mobility Improvement Project

MnDOT is working with the City of Moorhead and BNSF to construct two underpasses to remove the at-grade railroad crossings on Hwy 10/Hwy 75. This project would provide safety and mobility improvements in Moorhead by eliminating conflict points and removing crossing blockages caused by rail traffic.

An arial photograph of 11th Street.Proposed 11th Street underpass

For more information, visit the project website.


Icon depicting a pipeline
646 milesof pipelines in District 4

Pipelines provide low-cost, high-volume shipping options for liquids and gases, making pipelines a key element of the transportation network for liquid fuels. Minnesota has no petroleum or natural gas resources and primarily imports crude oil, natural gas, and other petroleum products.


Freight shipping by air accounts for a small portion of the freight carried by other modes. However, air freight is still important to the economy as the cargo carried by air is typically of high value, low weight, and time-sensitive.

District 4 has three key airports:

  • Hector International, Fargo, ND
  • Muni-Einar Mickelson Field, Fergus Falls
  • Chandler Field, Alexandria

In addition, there are

Icon depicting an airplane


intermediate airports
Icon depicting an airplane runway


landing strips

District 4 Freight System Condition and Performance

MnDOT’s mission of ensuring safety, mobility, and maintaining transportation infrastructure is key to supporting the multimodal freight transportation system. Key findings on the system condition and performance in District are provided below.

A photo depicting a freight train


Truck crashes in District 4 are primarily clustered along major highways and in high-population areas such as I-94, Hwy 10, and Hwy 59. Between 2010 and 2019, more than 2,600 truck-involved crashes happened in District 4, about 4 percent of which led to 44 fatalities and 69 serious injuries. Fatal and serious injury truck crashes are primarily clustered along Hwy 10 in Detroit Lakes, Hwy 29 in Alexandria, and Hwy 9 in Benson and Morris.

Between 2010 and 2019, a total of 55 crashes occurred at public highway-rail grade crossings in the District. BNSF line in Otter Tail County and the CP line in Pope, Douglas, and Grant Counties have relatively higher levels of crash risk than other rail crossings in District 4. These lines have higher operational speeds and higher traffic volumes compared to other rail lines in District 4.

Commercial Vehicle Crashes by Severity (2010-2019)

To request a MnDOT document in an alternative format email your request to ADArequest.dot@state.mn.us


Population Centers
  • Town
  • City
  • Interstate
  • US Highway
  • MN Highway
  • State Road
  • MnDOT District 4
Commercial Vehicle Crashes
  • Possible Injury Crash (329)
  • Minor Injury Crash (266)
  • Serious Injury Crash
  • Fatal Crash (43)


Icon depicting a road
Mobility for freight transportation is important because slow or inefficient transportation can increase shipping costs. District 4’s highways and corridors do not experience significant truck mobility issues. However, average truck speeds tend to be lower where major highway corridors cross urban areas like in Moorhead, Fergus Falls, Alexandria, and Detroit Lakes. Additionally, rush hour congestion creates issues for trucks and cars at intersections and interchanges across District 4.
Icon depicting a road under a bridge
Truck mobility can also be affected by bridge height clearance requirements and oversize/overweight vehicle load restrictions. District 4 has several corridors that restrict truck movements for oversize/overweight vehicles and have barriers to general truck traffic due to height clearance.

Infrastructure condition

Icon depicting a pothole
The condition of infrastructure is important for safety and smooth travel. This is particularly critical for freight because rough road surfaces can cause bumps that damage goods. Pavement surfaces on almost all major highways in the District 4 are in fair or good condition. Of the 1,710 bridge structures 10 ft and over in District 4, 68 are in poor condition.

Stay tuned for future opportunities to provide feedback for the District 4 Freight Plan!