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F Street railroad crossing work in Bellingham extended

After delays in obtaining equipment, project continues through September

The F Street road closure in Bellingham will continue through September.
The F Street road closure in Bellingham will continue through September.
By Ralph Schwartz Local Government Reporter

Upgrades at the railroad crossing on F Street in Bellingham are taking longer than anticipated.

Renovations at the crossing between West Holly Street and Roeder Avenue could be finished by the end of September, a city public works spokesperson said. 

Electronic signs near the project had initially announced the closure of F Street at the crossing would be lifted by Aug. 1.

Traffic will continue to be detoured away from the normally busy F Street crossing until work is completed.

“The F Street crossing opening was pushed back due to delays in equipment procurement,” public works Communications and Outreach Coordinator Natalie Monro said. “This project required a special control cabinet that had to be fabricated to allow our signal at Roeder to talk to the railroad signal.”

After some software programming, the cabinet is now ready to install, Monro said. Once that is completed, Burlington Northern Santa Fe must install and test its equipment. 

“These interfaces have to be very carefully tested, given the safety implications,” Monro said.

The F Street renovation is the third of six projects at railroad crossings along Bellingham’s waterfront that are needed to designate the area as a “quiet zone” for passing trains. After all six are completed — at F Street, Central Street, Cornwall Avenue, Pine Street, Bayview Drive at Boulevard Park, and a pedestrian crossing at Boulevard Park — the city can seek quiet-zone status for the area with the Federal Railroad Administration. 

Federal regulations require trains to sound their horns when they approach a roadway, day or night, unless specific safety improvements are made at all crossings along a stretch of track at least a half-mile long.

The work at F Street includes new crossing gates, updated signs, and improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians. Colacurcio Brothers Construction is doing the work for $1.42 million, with funding from a federal grant and sales tax revenue collected for the Bellingham Transportation Fund

The full project cost, including Burlington Northern Santa Fe contract work and consultant fees, is $3.3 million, city engineers Fritz Anthony and Chad Schulhauser told Cascadia Daily News in May.

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