CONNELL -- A busy railroad crossing near Connell schools soon will be safer, thanks to a state grant.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission recently approved a $9,686 payment from the Grade Crossing Protective Fund to pay for a pedestrian warning bell as part of upgrades at Connell railway crossing. The crossing is at the intersection of West Adams Street and the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway tracks, just blocks from the North Franklin School District facilities.
"Many pedestrians, adults and students use the crossing daily. It's a major route to and from the schools," said City Administrator Steve Taylor.
The warning bell will be part of improvements already planned for West Adams Street, thanks to a $900,000 grant the city received from the Washington Transportation Improvement Board. The city also is putting $100,000 toward the project, which will add curbing, gutters, a storm drain system, lighting and sidewalks to the two-lane road from Columbia to Sixth avenues.
Taylor said the city has awarded the construction contract to POW Construction of Pasco, and work should begin the first week in July.
"We're excited about the project linking our main street, Columbia Avenue, to the North Franklin School District facilities," Taylor said. "The condition of the street there is very bad, and we're grateful to the state for making itpossible to meet our goals of improving the city's infrastructure while enhancing our residents' safety."
The street has a 25 mph speed limit. About 630 vehicles per day cross the tracks, and 10 percent of those are commercial vehicles. School buses cross the tracks an average of 60 times per day on school days.
An average of 31 freight and two passenger trains a day use the tracks going 45 mph over the crossing.
Taylor said he is not aware of any accidents at this train crossing.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission requires the upgrades to the railroad crossing be completed by Dec. 31.
That shouldn't pose a problem. Taylor expects the street and crossing work to be completed sometime in October.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org