Getting from here to there would be a bit easier with a little federal help.
That’s why the various at-grade road crossings – specifically Barker, Park and Pines – got plenty of discussion time when Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers paid a visit to the Spokane Valley City Council last Friday.
“We hope you keep all of this on your radar,” said Council Member Sam Wood.
While the meeting was lightly attended -- less than two dozen listened, but were not allowed to comment – the council pressed on the issue that Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific railroads do not seem to be willing to work together to make Bridging the Valley – a long hoped-for plan to align the main tracks into a single corridor while developing under and overpasses at busy crossings – a reality.
However, a strong voice in Washington, D.C., could make the difference.
“They don’t even think they need to get a permit from us to do their project,” said Council Member Ben Wick, expressing frustration that BNSF was moving forward with double tracks through a section of Spokane Valley. “We need your help.”
The city has received more than $9 million in TIGER grant funding for the Barker Road grade-separation project, which council members acknowledged wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the congresswoman. However, the fear is, greater train traffic will have a much greater impact at crossings at, in particular, Pines and Park roads that haven’t been fully addressed.
McMorris Rodgers suggested “coordinating a meeting” with representatives of the two railroads.
“I think that’s what we need to do,” she said.
“Well, we’re striking out at the local level,” said City Manager Mark Calhoun.
A Pines Road grade-separation project would cost about $24 million.