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Dec. 4, 2021

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BNSF plans $160M in upgrades

State infrastructure improvements part of $3.3B program

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
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BNSF Railway will spend $160 million making upgrades and performing maintenance around the state of Washington this year. In the last five years, the company has put roughly $940 million into upgrading and improving its rail network around the state.
BNSF Railway will spend $160 million making upgrades and performing maintenance around the state of Washington this year. In the last five years, the company has put roughly $940 million into upgrading and improving its rail network around the state. The Columbian files Photo Gallery

BNSF Railway Co. plans to make $160 million in infrastructure upgrades in the state this year, with many of those either having already occurred or occurring in upcoming months around Southwest Washington.

All year, workers will be coming through the area for various projects.

The bulk of the investments will focus on maintenance projects, such as surfacing about 490 miles of track, replacing about 40 miles of rail, replacing nearly 230,000 rail ties and improving rail ballast, which forms the track bed.

Earlier this year, crews replaced track on the company’s main line between Vancouver and Longview. Starting in January, crews replaced ties around the company’s Vancouver rail yard and will continue to do so in upcoming weeks.

“In the last five years, the majority of the Vancouver rail yard has been renewed with new ties, new track, new rail,” BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said.

BNSF will build a new double track between Washougal and Mount Pleasant and will also begin bridge replacement projects in Home Valley and North Bonneville.

In the last five years, BNSF has invested around $940 million in its Washington rail network.

The work is part of the company’s $3.3 billion network-wide capital investment program in 2018. The majority of the funds are dedicated to track maintenance and replacement, but $100 million will be spent on continued implementation of positive train control, a system that monitors and controls train movements and is designed to prevent certain accidents by stopping a train automatically. The system will generally improve the safety of railway traffic.

Melonas said positive train control is already in place on BNSF freight trains that travel through Vancouver.

BNSF operates around 32,500 miles of track in 28 states and three Canadian provinces. Grains and coal are among materials it ships.

Columbian staff writer
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