OLYMPIA, Wash. – State regulators today approved funds to improve the safety at a railroad crossing in Whitman County.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) approved $20,000 from the Grade Crossing Protective Fund (GCPF) to pay for upgrades at a railroad-highway grade crossing at the intersection of State Route 272 and Washington & Idaho Railway (WIR) tracks in the city of Palouse.
The railroad company plans to use the funds to upgrade the existing flashing lights to long-lasting, energy efficient flashing LED lights, replace the system batteries and chargers, and install a surge protection panel and newer motion-detection technology. These improvements will increase the overall safety at the crossing for motorists and pedestrians, who will be able to rely on these active warning devices to determine if a train is approaching the crossing.
SR 272 is a two-lane roadway with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour. The average annual daily traffic across the crossing is 1,600 vehicles a day with trucks making up about 12 percent of the total traffic. Two freight trains a day operate at 10 miles per hour over the crossing.
The upgrades must be completed by July 15, 2013. State GCPF funding is limited to $20,000 for the project. The approximate cost of the project is $21,487.17. WIR will pay the difference of $1,487.17.
The Legislature created the GCPF in 1969 to provide money for safety measures designed to decrease the potential for accidents and fatalities at public and private crossings and along railroad tracks in the state. The UTC administers the fund.
The UTC is the state agency responsible for railroad safety, including approving new grade crossings and closing or altering existing rail crossings. The agency investigates train accidents, inspects public-railroad crossings, approves rail-safety improvement projects and manages Operation Lifesaver, a rail-safety education program in Washington and nationwide.