Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission
In 2015, the Washington State Legislature passed ESHB 1449, expanding the UTC's regulatory jurisdiction to improve safety in response to increasing movements of crude oil trains traveling through the state. The UTC developed rules, which went into effect March 11, 2016, to implement the new law.
As part of the new law, first-class cities must keep public railroad crossing data current. Cities are responsible for providing updated crossing inventory information to the UTC as crossings are modified, closed, or opened, within 30 days of the action. Cities may send this information by email to RailCrossingInventory@utc.wa.gov.
Another provision of the new law allows first-class cities to opt-in to the UTC's railroad crossing safety inspection program, which includes regular periodic inspections, identification of defects, and enforcement for correcting those defects. Previously, first-class cities were responsible for ensuring safety at railroad crossings within their own city. There are ten first-class cities in Washington: Aberdeen, Bellingham, Bremerton, Everett, Richland, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, and Yakima.
Process for opt-in: A first-class city must notify the UTC in writing of its intent to opt-in at least 60 days prior to the effective date requested by the city. A request to opt-in must be accompanied by documentation demonstrating that the city's governing body has approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city and the UTC.
UTC/First Class Cities MOU Template
Technical assistance: For first-class cities that opt-in, UTC staff will provide technical assistance on grade crossing safety, maintenance, and modifications as agreed between the city and the UTC.
Opting out: First-class cities may opt out of the UTC's crossing safety inspection program by submitting a notice of withdrawal in writing at least 90 days prior to the date the city intends to assume rail crossing safety inspections within its jurisdiction.
Please contact Kathy Hunter, Rail Safety Manager, at (360) 664-1257 or by email at email@example.com.