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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane County spending $1 million on gates, lights for railroad crossing

A West Plains railroad crossing that’s been the site of multiple collisions and at least one fatality will soon be a lot safer.

Spokane County has received a $929,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to install guardrails, lights and gates where the Washington Eastern Railroad crosses Coulee Hite Road, northwest of Airway Heights.

The crossing is surrounded by wheat fields, roughly halfway between Fairchild Air Force Base and Reardan. It’s 1.5 miles north of U.S. Highway 2 and a few hundred feet east of a HighLine Grain Growers’ elevator.

Spokane County Engineer Matt Zarecor told county commissioners on Tuesday that the crossing’s significant collision history made it a priority for the federal government.

More than $350,000 of the grant will pay for flashing lights and gates. The rest will cover the cost of guardrails, signs, engineering and more.

Zarecor said the county will start engineering the project this spring and look to acquire right of way next winter and spring. The project is scheduled to be completed in summer 2025.

The Washington Eastern Railroad runs for 108 miles from Cheney to Coulee City and is owned by the state Department of Transportation. It’s had a few different operators in recent years. Jaguar Transport, headquartered in Joplin, Missouri, now has the trackage rights and operates it. It’s mainly used to transport wheat.