State approves funds to improve safety at Whitman County railroad crossing
OLYMPIA, Wash. – State regulators today approved funds to improve the safety of 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 27 and First Street in the city of Oakesdale.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) plans to use the funds to install two shoulder-mounted LED flashing lights and gates, replace the relay case with a bungalow and change all underground signal cable. 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 27/First Street is a two-lane roadway with a posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour. The average annual daily traffic across the crossing is 1,100 vehicles, including 32 percent commercial motor vehicles. The road is an established school bus route with 16 school buses traveling over the crossing each day. The street is also a freight corridor, with 300,000 to 4 million tons of freight hauled by truck per year on this roadway.
State GCPF funding is limited to $20,000 for the project. The approximate cost of the project is $58,206.15. WSDOT will pay the difference of $38,206.15. The upgrades must be completed by June 30, 2013.
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.