State approves funds to improve safety at a Franklin County railroad crossing
OLYMPIA, Wash. – State regulators today approved funds to improve the safety at a railroad crossing in Franklin County.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) approved $25,000 from the Grade Crossing Protective Fund (GCPF) to pay for a portion of a crossing-safety project near a railroad-highway grade crossing in the city of Pasco.
The city is seeking to install median barriers at a public railroad crossing located on West A Street. The city also is proposing to install a raised traffic curb with traffic bumpers on South First Ave. South First Ave. runs parallel to the tracks that intersect with A Street 30 feet from the crossing.
UTC staff identified the West A Street crossing for safety improvements through an analysis of 15 incidents over the last five years of motorists driving around lowered crossing gates. In addition, there have been three accidents at the crossing resulting in property damage. As a result of the analysis, UTC staff contacted the city of Pasco and BNSF Railway Co. (BNSF) and they participated in an on-site meeting to evaluate the crossing and address these safety issues. This project is a partnership between the city of Pasco, BNSF and the commission to improve public safety by reducing the ability of motorists from driving around the lowered gates at this crossing.
Approximately 40 passenger and freight trains a day travel over this crossing at speeds up to 25 miles per hour. There are three tracks at this crossing: one main and two sidings.
West A Street is a minor arterial and is a designated truck route with a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour. Average annual daily traffic through the crossing is 5,500 including 12 percent commercial motor vehicles and no school buses. South First Avenue runs parallel to the railroad tracks and averages 2,500 vehicles per day and intersects West A Street at an angle.
The upgrades must be completed by June. 30, 2013. State GCPF funding is limited to $25,000 for the project. The approximate cost of the project is $66,000. The city of Pasco will pay the difference of $41,000.
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.