State approves $23,000 Grant to Protect Tourists at Palouse Falls
Fencing will keep pedestrians off Union Pacific railroad tracks
OLYMPIA, Wash. – State regulators today approved $23,000 in rail safety upgrades to protect tourists visiting the popular Palouse Falls in Whitman County.
At the request of the Union Pacific Railroad, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) approved a Grade Crossing Protective Fund (GCPF) grant to pay for about 1,000 feet of fencing between the railroad right-of-way and Palouse Falls State Park.
Palouse Falls is a popular tourist attraction, drawing thousands of visitors annually during spring and summer. UTC staff confirmed that the proximity of the falls to the railroad track presents a safety risk as park visitors explore the area. Railroad personnel have experienced near-miss incidents with pedestrians trespassing on the railroad tracks. A fence will direct the public away from the railroad tracks to trail systems within the park.
In receiving the funding, the railroad agreed to provide flagging services to protect the public during construction and to transport fencing materials for the contractor. The railroad anticipates completing the fencing project in June.
The 1969 Legislature created the GCPF program to provide money for safety measures to reduce accidents and fatalities at public and private crossings and along railroad tracks.
The UTC regulates railroad safety, including approving new grade crossings and closing or altering existing rail crossings, investigating train accidents, inspecting public-railroad crossings, approving safety projects, and managing safety education through Operation Lifesaver.