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 almost $20,000 from the Grade Crossing Protective Fund (GCPF) to pay for upgrades at a railroad-highway grade crossing at the intersection of Bishop Blvd. and the Washington & Idaho Railway, Inc. (WIR) tracks in the city of Pullman.
WIR plans to use the funds to upgrade to LED flashing lights and replace cross-buck signs. In addition, updated train-detection and supporting equipment will be installed to increase the reliability of the active-warning devices.
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.
Bishop Boulevard is a two-lane roadway with a posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour. Average annual daily vehicle traffic through the crossing is estimated at 12,900 vehicles. Bishop Boulevard is part of an established school bus route, with 15 to 20 school buses traveling over the crossing each day. The crossing is also part of an established truck route with trucks making up 7.5 percent of the total daily traffic on this roadway. Two freight trains per day operate at 25 miles per hour over the single track mainline crossing. No passenger trains operate over the crossing.
State GCPF funding is limited to $19,566.78 for the project. WIR is contributing labor toward the cost of the upgrades. The upgrades must be completed by June 1, 2014.
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.