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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Valley

Oil train hearing Tuesday in Spokane Valley

A BNSF freight train rolls through the Marshall area just south of Spokane Wash. Thursday August 11, 2011. Trains are harder to jump since the design of the individual cars has become more specialized and streamlined.  (SR file photo)
A BNSF freight train rolls through the Marshall area just south of Spokane Wash. Thursday August 11, 2011. Trains are harder to jump since the design of the individual cars has become more specialized and streamlined. (SR file photo)

City manager Mike Jackson presented the environmental impact statement to the council last week, and a decision was made to have a public hearing tomorrow. The terminal is expected to generate more than 2,920 one-way train trips through Spokane Valley every year. 

Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific both operate tracks through the Valley. Most of the railroad crossings in the Valley are at grade - an arm goes down, lights blink, a bell rings as the train crosses the road - and few are underpasses, like at Argonne and Trent. 

The Spokane Valley has struggled for years to find a solution that would allow "Bridging the Valley" with overpasses and underpasses to allow traffic to flow freely and reduce the risk for collisions between cars and trains, and cut down on emissions from idling cars waiting for trains to pass.

An overpass at Barker Road would cost more than $29.7 million and an underpass at Pines Road would cost more than $17.5 million. No funding source has been identified. Spokane Valley state legislators all voted against the transportation package just passed by the legislature. 

Mayor Rod Higgins said the hearing is a good idea, though there's little Spokane Valley can do in terms of stopping the trains. 

"The tracks do divide our city and we need to look carefully at that," Higgins said. "There are also significant safety issues we need to look at." 

A second public hearing (and a protest against the Tesoro terminal, hosted by Stand Up To Oil) is scheduled for Jan, 14 from 5-11 p.m. at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Pl. 

 



News and events in the greater Spokane Valley area.