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Docket numbers: TR-200436, TR-200478
State approves funds to improve rail safety in Lewis and Cowlitz Counties
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Today, state regulators approved funds to improve safety at railroad crossings in Lewis County and near railroad tracks in Cowlitz County.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) approved $20,000 from the Grade Crossing Protective Fund (GCPF) to partially pay for a project related to trespass prevention in Kelso, WA. BNSF Railway will also contribute $20,000 to the project, and the City of Kelso will oversee maintenance.
The project will replace damaged chain-link fencing with cut-resistant fencing to prevent pedestrians from trespassing over railroad tracks. There have been three trespasser fatalities around the damaged chain-link fencing in the last 30 months.
The UTC also approved $517.32 from the GCPF to pay for upgrades at 11 railroad crossings on the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum (CCRM) line in Lewis County.
CCRM plans to use the funds to replace a missing Emergency Notification System (ENS) sign, and to correct outdated emergency telephone numbers on ENS signs at 11 railroad crossings. These improvements will bring the crossings into compliance with the federal requirement for railroads to post ENS signs at all crossings.
The upgrades to both projects must be completed by Dec. 31.
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.