March 2019 • The latest from the Pacific Northwest
North Idaho first responders train on BNSF airboat, ice rescue techniques
Unusually frigid temperatures in the inland Pacific Northwest last month gave first responders in Northern Idaho the perfect opportunity to familiarize themselves with a new BNSF airboat and other winter rescue equipment. A training session held at Lake Pend Oreille near Sandpoint, Idaho saw first responders in the region practice airboat operation on water, ice, snow and bare ground. Participants also practiced using other winter rescue equipment, such as ice saws, dry suits, rafts and drones.
The airboat is available for local and regional hazards and rescue operations, as almost all boat launches in Bonner County are unusable during winter months. Participants came from all over the region, including Selkirk Fire, Sam Owen Fire, Bonner County Emergency Management and the Office of Emergency Management for the City of Lewiston and Nez Perce County.
Spreading the safety message in Centralia, Wash.
BNSF Police officers John Smith, Greg Thares and Jim Brown recently assisted the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office with the 2019 Safety City event in Centralia, Wash. Safety City is sponsored by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol and Operation Life Saver.
Surrounding law enforcement agencies and local fire department members staffed five different stations, demonstrating safety measures for students, teachers and parents. In addition to hearing about railroad crossing safety and the dangers of trespassing, the kids also learned about calling 911, school bus safety, boat and water safety and more. More than 1,000 kids participated during the four-day event, ranging in grades from kindergarten to second.
Evolving with agriculture over the years
Greg Guthrie, BNSF’s Director of Marketing for Agriculture Products, recently appeared on the Washington Grain Commission’s “Wheat All About It” podcast. Guthrie discussed the evolution of grain transportation over the years, and how BNSF increased holding capacity without increasing train size.
BNSF has evolved alongside the agriculture industry. For example, Guthrie said commodity-sized grain shipments have gone from diligently tilting box cars on large platforms to empty loads to today’s highly sophisticated 110-car unit trains that can load or unload in less than 10 hours. As the agriculture industry increased production, BNSF has moved from shipping single boxcars of grain to 26-car hopper units, to 52, to the current total of 110 grain hopper units in a single haul. Listen to the podcast: http://wagrains.org/podcast/episode-112-all-aboard-the-greg-guthrie-express-bnsfs-director-of-ag-products/.
In the works: Sandpoint Junction Connector Project
To meet the growing needs of the communities we serve, BNSF is proposing to build a second bridge over Lake Pend Oreille, which would be adjacent to the existing rail bridge. The project will also include new bridges over Sand Creek and Bridge Street in Sandpoint. This project will reduce congestion and help move current freight traffic and volumes more efficiently. This benefits all products we carry as well as the passenger trains that run on our main line. Another bridge over Lake Pend Oreille will also allow trains to run in both directions, reducing wait times for drivers on nearby roads that cross BNSF tracks and improving the flow of freight and passenger trains. To learn more, visit https://keepsandpointrolling.com/.
Investing in our communities
Supporting the communities where we operate, live, work and volunteer is paramount to BNSF. Recent BNSF Railway Foundation contributions include:
Building connections between people and animals
The BNSF Railway Foundation supports the Woodland Park Zoo’s effort to expand zoo access to those unable to visit due to resource, distance or language barriers. Contributions from the foundation help the Zoo for All program and the Ambassador Animal Outreach program bring educational and motivational wildlife experiences to underserved communities. Features include a reconfiguration of a nature space to make it suitable for children with sensory disorders, discounted zoo passes and language programs. Learn more about the zoo: zoo.org.
Bringing the world to kids in Everett
Imagine Children’s Museum, located in Everett, is bringing the world to children’s fingertips with the Celebrate Our World exhibit. The exhibit spotlights countries from across the globe by using as many culturally significant items as possible – pictures, books, music, clothes, flags and food – to give visitors a taste of the country highlighted. A world map shows children where each country is in relation to Seattle and lets them know how long it’d take to get there by plane. BNSF donated $3,500 to support the educational exhibit. Learn more about Imagine Children’s Museum: imaginecm.org.
Supporting education for youth in foster care
The BNSF Railway Foundation is investing in youth. A $5,000 donation was awarded to Treehouse, a nonprofit that provides Washington youth in foster case with academic and other essential support they need to graduate from high school. In 2018, Treehouse reported the highest on-time graduation rate ever – 69 percent – and an extended graduation rate of 82 percent for students who completed high school in five years despite obstacles along their academic path. Graduation success served 986 students last year. Treehouse is expanding services to eight new communities across Washington this year, with support from the foundation. Learn more about Treehouse: treehouseforkids.org.
Helping youth find healing and hope
Ryther is a Seattle-based organization that offers therapeutic services to young people struggling with emotional and behavioral issues. The organization helps youth find a path to healing through therapy, counseling, autism and ADHD services and substance abuse counseling. The BNSF Railway Foundation contributed $3,000 to the Ryther Child Center to support the organization’s work with underserved youth. Learn more about Ryther: ryther.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].