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Aug. 23, 2014, midnight
BNSF Railway is spending $235 million across Washington to upgrade track and roll out a computerized safety system that experts say can prevent devastating train accidents. The move is expected to help BNSF handle a rebound in train traffic tied to more oil trains originating in North Dakota and a recovering economy.
Aug. 21, 2014, midnight
A proposal that some freight trains through Spokane could have just one person on board as early as January has divided a union of rail workers and added fuel to a debate about how trains can be safely operated. The tentative agreement, forged last month between BNSF Railway and a union representing conductors and engineers, would allow trains equipped with new accident prevention technology to shed their human conductors. The agreement was negotiated and signed by eight members of a general committee of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union (SMART).
Aug. 19, 2014, midnight
REARDAN, Wash. – From his perch in the combine, Joel Zwainz lowered the reel even closer to the ground. This patch of winter wheat, he said, is normally about 10 inches tall, and even cutting at 4 inches, he’s still not picking up most of the grain. “It’s no fun to harvest here,” he said. “It’s kind of hard because it’s so low. Right now, I’ve got my reel down as low as it’ll go, and if I take my header any lower, it’ll be digging dirt.”
Aug. 17, 2014, midnight
The Washington Department of Transportation estimated in June that six proposed coal and oil terminals could add at least 44 more trains per day going through Spokane. In a letter to BNSF Railway in March asking for the company’s support for a bridge over train tracks at Barker Road, Spokane Valley Mayor Dean Grafos wrote that with the increase in coal and oil rail traffic, “this grade separation becomes even more of a priority.”