The WA Utilities and Transportation Commission granted BNSF’s petition to close the railroad crossing at Valley View Rd. I was sent an email by the UTC because I had testified (against granting the railroad crossing closing), and in the detailed decision, I saw this information which is quite frightening to say the least:
“As unsettling as we find the prospect of BNSF parking unit trains full of crude oil on the siding, unmanned, for hours at a time, we have no jurisdiction or authority to prevent the siding extension project from going forward. The Commission’s only role in this proceeding is to determine the appropriate highway-rail crossing design, which is limited to the questions of whether the Valley View Road crossing should be closed in light of the consequences created by the siding extension, and whether changes should be made to nearby alternate crossings in the event the crossing is closed.
“46 BNSF proposes to construct a siding in the vicinity of the crossing that will permit trains to exit the main line and wait for another train to pass. The crossing would interfere with operation of the siding and, if the siding were constructed without closure of the crossing, the results would include frequent delays to vehicle traffic.
“47 We find that the Valley View Road crossing will become especially hazardous upon completion of the siding extension project. Adding the siding tracks will magnify the potential dangers by obstructing motorists’ vision as they approach the crossing, and also cause confusion on the regular occasions when a train blocks the crossing for appreciable lengths of time.”
I continue to be appalled by our County Planning department’s decision to have permitted the BP and Phillips 66 crude by rail logistics facility projects without requiring that an EIS be conducted for each project.
Link to the complete UTC order/decision: http://www.utc.wa.gov/_layouts/CasesPublicWebsite/GetDocument.ashx?docID=263&year=2015&docketNumber=150189