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Otis Orchards Rail Crossings Studied For Changes, Closure

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission is studying eight railroad crossings in Otis Orchards, considering whether to erect crossing gates and signals or to close some of them.

Last fall, the commission began studying an almost two-mile stretch of Union Pacific Railroad track in Otis Orchards, from Campbell Road to Garry Road.

The study is the first in the state to review an entire corridor rather than just one crossing, said Mike Rowswell, rail carrier compliance specialist with the commission. It will be completed in a month.

The study is part of a federal effort to reduce the number of railroad crossings by 25 percent.

Rail crossings at the following roads are being studied: Campbell, Ashton, Kenney, Corrigan, Harvard, Arden, Lyden and Garry.

Campbell and Corrigan roads both already have signals and gates.

Harvard Road, which also has a signal, will remain open because lots of cars use it daily, Rowswell said.

“In some places it’s possible (to close roads), in some places it’s not feasible,” he said.

Originally, Spokane County applied to put in signals and gates at each of the crossings, and received federal funding to pay for the more than $800,000 project.

But before the county put in signals and gates, the state wanted to review whether or not it could reduce the number of railroad crossings. The UP corridor in Otis Orchards was chosen for study because of the low traffic volumes at most crossings.

Spokane County has 119 rail crossings on county roads. Of those, 64 do not have signals and gates, county traffic engineer Bob Brueggeman said.

“There’s pros and cons (to closing a road crossing the tracks),” Brueggeman said. “If there’s not a physical railroad crossing cars can use, then you eliminate car and train accidents.

“On the down side, traffic has to be redirected. If you do close a crossing, it’s a fairly long commute to the next crossing,” Brueggeman said.

One crossing on the Union Pacific line will get its stop sign replaced in 1998. The county will put in a gate and signal at Flora Road near the Spokane Business and Industrial Park.

, DataTimes

Tags: safety