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Rail safety grant approved for Thurston county railroad crossing

Docket Numbers: TR-191059

Rail safety grant approved for Thurston county railroad crossing

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Today state regulators approved more than $11,000 in grant funding for safety upgrades at the railroad overcrossing on Old Highway 99 near Offut Lake in Thurston County.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approved the Grade Crossing Protective Fund grant at the request of the Thurston County Public Works Department. BNSF Railway Company, which owns the track, agreed to the request.

The $11,752 grant will help fund upgrades to the warning signs approaching the crossing.

The crossing has a reduced clearance for highway vehicles of 12 feet 6 inches, and in 2019 it experienced six vehicle strikes and 26 occurrences of vehicles blocking traffic because they were unable to pass through.

Up to 9,000 vehicles pass under the bridge each day. Currently, 44 freight trains and 10 passenger trains use the crossing each day.

The upgrades must be completed by June 30, 2020. 

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.