Spokane eyes underpass to replace BNSF grade crossing

Written by Paul Conley, Editor-in-Chief
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Spokane wants to build an underpass so that vehicular traffic can avoid the BNSF grade crossing on Pines Road. The proposal comes as work is set to begin on a different grade-crossing project on Barker Road.

The city has hired HDR Engineering and David Evans and Associates for the design work for the Pines Road project. The contractors presented two plans, both of which call for constructing an underpass beneath the rail line, at a meeting at Spokane Valley City Hall on Thursday. Costs for the project would be between $26 million and $29 million, depending upon which of the two plans the city chooses.

Spokane has secured $5 million in state and city funding for the project, but has not yet secured federal grant funding.

Last year, the rail crossing caused more than 27,000 hours of vehicle delays and 27 collisions at the adjacent intersection at Trent Avenue and Pines Road, according to city documents cited by The Spokesman-Review newspaper.

The Pines Road project would be the second large-scale effort in the city to avoid traffic delays caused by passing rail cars. The $25 million Barker/BNSF project involves replacing the existing at-grade BNSF Railway Co. crossing on Barker Road with an overpass, constructing a roundabout at the Barker/Trent intersection, and closing the Flora/BNSF railway crossing. Funds for that project include a $9 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. Engineering design on the Barker Road project is expected to be finished by spring 2020 with the goal of having the project ready to construct in 2020-2021.

Separately,  BNSF said in February it would spend some $160 million in the state of Washington this year on construction and maintenance programs, largely to replace and upgrade rail, crossties and ballast.

 

 

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