State regulators’ statement on U.S. District Court’s dismissal of BNSF v. City of Wenatchee
OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) today issued the following statement regarding the decision by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington’s last week to dismiss BNSF Railway v. City of Wenatchee, rejecting BNSF’s argument that it was not responsible for paying for maintenance of warning signals and devices at a railroad crossing within the city:
“We are pleased the U.S. District Court supported our motion to dismiss this case. The commission takes its role in enforcing this statute seriously and appreciates the federal court’s ruling that holds the railroad company accountable for supporting public safety at rail crossings.”
BNSF filed for declaratory judgement claiming the economic charge included in RCW 81.53.295 is unconstitutional.
The U.S. District Court dismissed the case after determining that BNSF’s claims that state law was preempted by federal law were not viable.
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.