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State approves funds to improve safety at Adams County railroad crossing

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Docket numbers: TR-200098

State approves funds to improve safety at Adams County railroad crossing

OLYMPIA, Wash. – On Thursday, March 12 State regulators approved funds to improve the safety of a railroad crossing in Adams County.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) approved $20,000 from the Grade Crossing Protective Fund (GCPF) to pay for upgrades at a railroad-highway grade crossing at McManaman Road near the city of Othello.

The Columbia Basin Railroad Company, Inc., (Columbia Basin) plans to use the funds to upgrade train detection and crossing signal control equipment and batteries. These improvements will increase the overall safety at the crossing for motorists and pedestrians who rely on these active warning devices to determine if a train is approaching the crossing.

McManaman Road is a two-lane roadway with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour. The average annual daily traffic through the crossing is 1,019 vehicles, including 15% commercial vehicle traffic. The road is an established school bus route with four school buses traveling over the crossing daily. Two freight trains operate over this crossing daily at up to 10 miles per hour. No passenger trains operate over the crossing.

State GCPF funding is limited to $20,000 for the project. The approximate cost of the project is $24,477.58. Columbia Basin  will pay the difference of $4,477.58. The upgrades must be completed by Aug. 1, 2020.

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.