Railroad crossing safety upgrade is done

| July 30, 2020 1:00 AM

A railroad crossing at District Two Road in Bonners Ferry was upgraded and made safer with new crossing gates and lights earlier this month.

Drivers crossing railroad tracks at District Two Road will now benefit from the addition of the new gates and lights, Boundary County Emergency Management Director Andrew O’Neel said.

The crossing has been a concern for Boundary County residents for some time, prompting Boundary County Road and Bridge to collaborate with the Idaho Transportation Department and the Union Pacific Railroad to plan and design new safety features starting in 2018, O’Neel said.

Plans developed by ITD and Union Pacific were implemented this past June and July for an estimated cost of $314,000.

“The crossing is not only on a school bus route but is also on the way to Riverside Park which features hiking trails and two softball diamonds,” said Renee Nelson, co-superintendent at Boundary County Road and Bridge. “It is a very popular area for families and ball players, and the recent changes will benefit the safety of all children and drivers who use it each day.”

After construction, Boundary County Road and Bridge partnered with the city of Bonners Ferry to have stop bars painted at the modified crossing to keep drivers safely distanced from any trains passing through.

Approximately nine trains and 150 vehicles cross the tracks each day, Boundary County officials said. Given that vehicle movements were only controlled by a stop sign before, the introduction of lights and gates is a significant safety enhancement.

“We have already had some positive feedback from the public expressing their thanks,” Nelson said.

The improvements were funded by the federal rail safety program, which provides an average of $2.2 million each year to Idaho to improve public railroad crossings. ITD contributes a 10 percent match.

Similar improvements are planned in 2025 for the crossing at Schoolhouse Road.