Westgate Road RR crossing an unneeded obstacle, says reader

The in basket: Ernest Behrle has an idea for how the Navy can help compensate Kitsap County folks for whatever environmental damage results from the new pier it wants to build at the Trident base..

“I live out near Seabeck,” he said, “and the best way to go to Poulsbo and other points north involves (using) Westgate Road.  There are lots of people using this route each day and we all have to stop at the railroad crossing (which wastes fuel, brakes and is an inconvenience) at Westgate Road.  In all the years I’ve been going that route, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a train.”

There are stop signs on each side of the tracks, requiring vehicles to stop.

“I know the Navy was looking for some way to pay this area back for the damage that will be caused by adding another pier at Bangor,” Ernest said. “One thing they could do is to work with the railroad to put in a drop arm to stop car traffic if a train would actually be on the tracks.  The whole purpose of the tracks is for benefit of the sub-base and the Navy.

“Westgate is used by a lot of Navy personnel going in and out of the Bangor gate,” he said.

The out basket: The news coverage I’ve read suggests that Kitsap has much larger fish to fry in seeking mitigation for the pier project, mostly of a shoreline improvement nature. Big Beef Creek and Port Gamble are mentioned. County commissioners also are trying to head off plans to spend the estimated $15 million in mitigation money on the Jefferson County side of Hood Canal.

I asked county public works about chipping out enough to improve the Westgate railroad crossing.

Doug Bear of Public Works said the money to mitigate the new pier’s impacts isn’t available for road projects.

There has been other money available for this kind of project, and two Central Kitsap RR crossing recently have benefited.

“The railroad crossings are managed by the Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad Company,” said County Engineer Jon Brand, “and are under the jurisdiction of the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission. The county received a federal Railway/Highway Crossing Program grant in 2002 for mechanical cross arms at the Seabeck Highway and Newberry Hill crossings and worked with the railroad for those improvements.

“There was also an application filed for Westgate but grant funds were not secured for this location,” Jon said.

Those funds are no longer available, he said. “There is a current round of discretionary federal grant funds available for railroad crossing hazard mitigation, but it is limited to federally designated high speed corridors only.”

One thought on “Westgate Road RR crossing an unneeded obstacle, says reader

  1. Why stop? The county owns, what, one yield sign? Most drivers just slow to insure no train is approaching and then go. In 16 years of using this crossing I’ve actually seen a train. Once.

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