With the rainy season underway here in the Northwest, landslides can become a major concern along rail lines. Since 2013, BNSF has worked with WSDOT and 16 other agencies on the Landslide Mitigation Work Group. This group has researched historical slide locations and causes along coastal bluffs and used that data to identify six project sites in Mukilteo and Everett.
BNSF, working as a WSDOT contractor, has completed many projects for the Work Group including:
- Retaining walls to catch landslide debris before it hits rail tracks
- Slide detection fences to provide early warnings of active landslides
- Improved drainage systems
- Erosion control
The Working Group also meets with local governments and private property owners to identify ways to prevent slides on their property.
Reducing landslides is important to maintaining rail service, especially for Amtrak passengers and Sound Transit Sounder commuters. BNSF’s operating guidelines restrict passenger rail service for 48 hours after a slide.