Safety Improvements Coming to Yakima County Railroad Crossing - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Safety Improvements Coming to Yakima County Railroad Crossing

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YAKIMA, WA - Yakima County is working to improve the safety of the railroad crossing near South Track and Wapenish Road.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Committee today approved almost $20,000 from the Grade Crossing Protective Fund to pay for upgrades at the crossing near Toppenish.

The County says they plan to use the funds to install solar-powered advance warning signs with constant-flashing LED blinkers. This comes after BNSF Railway Co. reported several close calls between trains and vehicles at the crossing.

The LED flashing lights will provide greater visibility of the upcoming railroad crossing for drivers.

South Track Rd. is a two-lane roadway that carries about 850 vehicles each day. Commercial vehicles make up about 1 percent of total daily traffic. Two school buses travel over the crossing each day. Freight trains operate over this crossing 10 times a day at 55 to 60 miles per hour.

State GCPF funding is limited to $19,932.84 for the project. The upgrades must be completed by June 1, 2014.

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.