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Docket number: TR-121881 & TR-121882
State approves funds to improve safety at two Cowlitz County railroad crossings
OLYMPIA, Wash. – State regulators today approved funds to improve the safety of two railroad crossings in Cowlitz County.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) approved $40,000 from the Grade Crossing Protective Fund (GCPF) to pay for upgrading warning devices at two railroad-highway grade crossings in Kelso and Longview.
The railroad crossing in Kelso is located at the intersection of Columbia Heights Rd. and the Columbia & Cowlitz Railway Company’s tracks. In Longview, the crossing is at the intersection of Washington Way and the railway’s tracks.
In Kelso, the railway company plans to use $20,000 to install new shoulder-mounted gates, LED flashing lights and replace the existing warning bell with an electronic model. The railway also proposes to install a new electronic-signal circuitry and upgrade train detection.
In Longview, the railway company plans to change the existing 12-foot cantilevers with a 24-foot variety and replace cantilever foundations and crossbucks. In addition, the railway would install LED flashing lights and substitute the current warning bell with an electronic-warning bell.
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.
Kelso’s Columbia Heights Rd. is a two-lane roadway with a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour. The average annual daily vehicle traffic through the crossing is about 7,000 vehicles, including 12 school buses. Four freight trains per day operate at 10 miles per hour over the single track main line crossing. No passenger trains operate over the crossing.
Longview’s Washington Way is a four-lane roadway with a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour. Average annual daily vehicle traffic through the crossing is estimated at 8,550 vehicles, including 16 school buses. Six freight trains per day operate at 10 miles per hour over the single track mainline crossing. No passenger trains operate over the crossing.
State GCPF funding is limited to $20,000 for the each project. The approximate cost of Kelso project is $23,350. The railway company will pay the difference of $3,350. The Longview project will cost about $21,600 with the railway paying the difference of $1,600. UTC staff is helping to provide surplus equipment at each crossing. Both projects 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.