BNSF slow to address closed vehicular bridge in state of Washington

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
rail bridges
The First Street railroad bridge runs over a massive BNSF rail yard.
BNSF Railway

Over the weekend a historic wooden rail bridge over the Colorado River in Arizona caught on fire and was destroyed. In Airway Heights, Wash., motorists want a wooden vehicular bridge owned by a Class 1 railroad company to be reopened. Some would not mind if officials lit a fire under the leadership at BNSF.

Spokane County engineers closed the Euclid Road bridge in June after two critical failures were found. The closure now has motorists taking a 3-mile detour on a gravel road. Some leave their vehicles on one side of the bridge and just walk over that handicapped structure.

The bridge was rebuilt in 1980 by the Burlington Northern Railroad Co. after a fire, and it is now BNSF’s responsibility to address the failures that were discovered on the span. County officials, however, are not getting a swift response.

A town hall meeting was held on Sept. 16, and County Commissioner Al French told a group of about 100 that the bridge is not acceptable by county standards. Those in attendance put pressure on French to get answers from BNSF.

BNSF says it has hired an analyst to deal with the project, and French hopes to have more answers by the end of the month.

Another alternative would be to pave the entire stretch, which could cost $1.3 million. The county is looking into a gravel stabilization plan, and is hoping BNSF will help pay for such a project.

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