ARLINGTON – As some cyclists know well from painful experience, crossing railroad tracks embedded in a paved trail or on a street can be a dicey undertaking.
Just ask the more than a half-dozen riders who have been injured after their wheel lodged in the gap where the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks cross Centennial Trail at a skewed angle near the 19200 block of 67th Avenue NE.
The City Council awarded a $63,856 contract to low bidder PNW Civil, Inc. for the 67th Avenue Rail-Trail Crossing Improvement Project, which will realign it for cyclists and pedestrians, and result in fewer accidents, Public Works Director Jim Kelly said.
“The proposed improvement will realign the trail so that it crosses the tracks at a more perpendicular (90 degree) angle,” Kelly said.
Project work also includes traffic control, demolition, grading, paving and pavement markings.
In the new alignment, Kelly said the trail heading north along 67th will turn east about 50 feet from the tracks, then approach them at a 90-degree angle, similar to where the trail crosses the tracks downtown from 67th east onto Lebanon Street beneath Highway 9. Both are the only spots where the 30-mile Centennial Trail crosses train tracks.
City staff applied for and got a Federal Highway Administration safety grant to improve the crossing.
The National Association of City Transportation Officials discourages crossing tracks at an angle less than 45 degrees. Bike tires can become stuck in rail flanges, causing accidents.
City engineer Ryan Morrison said the two- to three-week project will be timed as best as possible with improvements BNSF has planned, which puts construction around late May or early June. A detour will be in place while the trail is realigned.