January 2019 • The latest from the Pacific Northwest
BNSF helps to reduce road congestion
The Alaskan Way Viaduct permanently closed on January 11, making way for the new State Route 99 tunnel. Until the tunnel opens, up to 90,000 vehicles a day that used the viaduct are expected to shift to surface streets through and around downtown Seattle.
BNSF plays an important role in reducing highway congestion while also enhancing road safety and lessening emissions that affect our environment. One intermodal train removes more than 280 freight trucks from the highway. It would have taken approximately 6.5 million additional trucks to handle the 117.2 million tons of freight that originated in, terminated in, or moved through Washington by rail in 2017.
As one of the largest landholding companies in the U.S., BNSF is the keeper of more than one million contracts, deeds, photographs and maps collected over nearly 170 years. Maps are essential to the railroad – capturing permanent property records and locations of important assets including signals, structures and property lines.
In 2013, BNSF began converting paper maps into Geographic Information Systems (GIS) utilizing digital mapping technology. Prior to that, employees made notes on paper maps – meticulously capturing records needed for sales, legal disputes or tax inquiries. GIS technology is improving both the precision of information recorded and the ease with which information can be accessed.
“Over time and with technology, we recognized that we needed to establish a permanent retention program for many of our vital records, including maps,” explained Jim Obermiller, Director of Compliance. “We now have a climate-controlled center where we scan, record and protect these documents, which are not only important to our company but also to U.S. history.”
Ashley Jeffus, project manager, helps oversee the collection of historical archives.
Completion of second track improves service for BNSF customers in southwest Washington
A nearly five-mile second main line track between Washougal and Mt. Pleasant, Wash. was recently completed, with a first train successfully travelling over the line near the BNSF’s Fallbridge Subdivision, which spans the Columbia River Gorge, late in December 2018. Adding a second track addresses previous constraints on the west end of the subdivision, enhancing capacity and improving traffic flow throughout this region.
Grading for the new line started in June 2018. The BNSF Engineering team built the second main track by relaying two miles of the existing siding and constructing 2.3 miles of new track. One steel bridge and three retaining walls were also constructed for the second main line.
Giving back to our communities
The BNSF Railway Foundation has been BNSF’s main vehicle for charitable giving since 1996. The Foundation has supported and helped improve quality of life for thousands of communities across the 28 states through which BNSF operates, and where BNSF employees live, work and volunteer.
Recent foundation donations include:
Honoring our brave Veterans
The Oregon Medal of Honor Highway and Cities Project recognizes Oregon’s 26 recipients of the Medal of Honor – our nation’s highest award for military valor during combat. Medal recipients acted with courage beyond the call of duty during combat and at the risk of one’s life while saving others. More than half of the nation’s recipients from WWI to the present lost their lives during their act of unselfish heroism.
BNSF Railway Foundation’s $10,000 contribution, along with other donations, funded installation of 12 highway signs along the 451-mile US Highway 20 and plaques in 12 “Medal of Honor Cities”. The project, managed by the Bend Heroes Foundation, thanks and salutes these brave individuals who served in eight wars in 10 countries over 108 years from the Civil War to the Vietnam War. Learn more here: Bendheroes.org
For many years BNSF has been one of the nation’s top employers of military veterans. BNSF currently employs more than 7,300 military veterans* (approximately 18 percent of our workforce). BNSF supports reservists as well, enabling time off for training and deployment.
*Veteran status is self-reported by employees
Committing to water safety
The Stevenson community pool is where thousands of children have learned to swim and about the importance of being safe around water. The BNSF Railway Foundation is honored to provide financial support to help carry forward the pool’s mission of water safety and to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy this beloved community pool. More information about the pool: scsd303pool.ss14.sharpschool.com
Creating accessible cooking space
Kitchen Ponderay, a new commercial kitchen in the Bonner Mall in Sandpoint, ID, provides commercial cooking space for the community, new business start-ups and at-risk youth. In the future, the space will also be available for volunteer organizations in the region to provide food and facilities necessary to prepare and distribute meals. A $10,000 donation from the BNSF Railway Foundation provided support for equipment, construction and installation for the facility.
Sheltering those in need
For almost 100 years, Compass Housing Alliance has been providing housing, shelter and support services to our vulnerable community members. A $10,000 donation from the BNSF Railway Foundation will contribute to enhanced shelter programs which bring much-needed shelter and support services to those experiencing homelessness and poverty in the Puget Sound region. Learn more about Compass Housing Alliance: compasshousingalliance.org
Emergencies – Call 800-832-5452
To report a vehicle stalled on a crossing, suspicious circumstances, malfunctioning crossing gates and lights, or any other emergency, call 800-832-5452 immediately.
Have a Question for Us?
Do you have a question about BNSF or rail in the Pacific Northwest that you would like addressed in future issues of Inside Track? Send them to [email protected].