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Washington Voices

Railroad Seeks Closure Of Crossings, But Property Owners Cite Hardship

In/Around: Orchard Avenue, Millwood, Otis Orchards

The Union Pacific Railroad wants to put a halt to cars crossing its tracks at three places in the Spokane Valley.

The railroad has asked the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission for permission to close the crossings at Dollar, Shannon and Ashton roads in the north part of the Valley.

Spokane County has requested that public hearings be held before the crossings are closed to traffic.

The railroad wants to close the crossings for safety reasons, said Ron Hormann, county engineer.

“It’s basically to eliminate the potential for accidents,” Hormann said. “They’re always looking to eliminate crossings because of safety.”

The railroad had asked the county to waive its right to the hearings, but the county refused.

It’s sometimes important to maintain crossings, Hormann said. The hearings give the Utilities and Transportation Commission information on the importance of a particular crossing, he said.

“We want to hear the people who live in those areas out,” Hormann said. “We really need to hear from the community.”

At least one group is concerned about the Shannon Road closure.

A representative from a group of developers that owns property north of the tracks off Shannon told county commissioners recently that the closure could pose a hardship.

The group, which includes the Inland Empire Paper Co. and Northwood developer Ted Gunning, owns about 150 acres north of the tracks that it plans to develop, said Bill Lawson, who represents the group.

The Shannon crossing may be the only access to the property, Lawson told commissioners last week.

“The property owners want that crossing left open,” he said.

The Utilities and Transportation Commission has not scheduled hearing dates on the closures. They are likely to be held in the summer.