State approves funds to improve safety at King County railroad crossing
OLYMPIA, Wash. – State regulators today approved funds to improve the safety at a railroad crossing in King 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 202/Bendigo St. (SR 202) and Northwest Railway Museum’s tracks in the city of North Bend.
Northwest Railway proposes to increase the length of the west bound approach block to a minimum of 270 feet from the present 238 feet. Extending the approach block to 270 feet will allow Northwest Railway to increase the total warning time for users at the crossing from 32 to 40 seconds. The railroad company states that during heavy traffic times, cars do not always properly clear the crossing before the gates descend. This upgrade will improve the overall safety at the crossing because all vehicles will clear the crossing before the gates lower.
SR 202 is a three-lane roadway with a posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour. The average daily traffic through the crossing is estimated at 11,060 which include motor vehicles and six school buses. No freight trains operate over the crossing.
Northwest Railway operates seasonally over the crossings with most operations on Saturday and Sundays, April through October. Northwest Railway plans to extend passenger service in the future with a goal of operating all year round.
The upgrades must be completed by March 1, 2013. State GCPF funding is limited to $20,000 for the project. The approximate cost of the project is $42,300. Northwest Railway will pay the excess costs.
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.