Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission
In 2015, the Washington State Legislature expanded the commission's regulatory jurisdiction to improve safety in response to increasing movements of crude oil trains traveling through the state. ESHB 1449 gave the commission authority to inspect and develop safety standards for private railroad crossings where railroads haul or will haul oil tank cars. The commission developed rules (WAC 480-62-270) which went into effect March 11, 2016, to implement the law.
By July 9, 2016, railroads must have ensured that every private crossing through which any amount of crude oil is transported has:
The signs must meet technical requirements for size, design, and placement. The commission's Grade Crossing Protective Fund is a grant program that may be used to provide funding for these signs.
In January 2016, commission railroad inspectors began inspecting private crossings that are located on oil routes throughout the state. After completing an investigation, our staff will notify the railroad concerns about restricted sight distance, unfavorable roadway or crossing configurations, or other hazards. Our staff may also notify the landowner, if staff has contact information.
It is the railroad's responsibility to ensure problems are resolved within 120 days of receiving notification from commission staff. The railroad may contact the private property owner if the contract with the railroad gives the property owner some or all the responsibility for maintaining signs or other safety measures. The law does not modify existing agreements between railroad companies and landowners.
Please contact Kathy Hunter, Director of Transportation Safety, at (360) 664-1257 or by email at Kathy.Hunter@utc.wa.gov.