BNSF fined for railroad crossing defects in Whatcom, Skagit counties


State regulators have approved a settlement with BNSF Railway Co. that imposes a $55,000 penalty against the company for failing to repair defects at six railroad crossings in Whatcom County and one in Skagit County.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approved the settlement. BNSF acknowledges that it failed to respond to repeated notices from the state commission about safety defects and did not repair crossings quickly enough, resulting in violations of state law.

The company agreed to pay the $55,000 penalty now, and will face an additional penalty of $50,000 if it fails to comply with the settlement terms.

Among other things, the settlement requires the railroad to respond within 30 days to any notice from the state commission about routine crossing defects, and within seven days to notice of severe defects.

In a press release, the commission reports that its staff sent BNSF a letter last December outlining the crossing defects and asking the company to fix or propose a plan to repair them. For several of the crossings, the commission had previously notified BNSF of defects and never received a response.

In a follow-up Jan. 29 inspection, the commission's rail inspector revisited the crossing sites and found the company had failed to repair the defects.

Reach JOHN STARK at or call 715-2274.

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