Bridging the Valley
What is Bridging the Valley?Bridging the Valley (BTV) is a series of projects that will separate vehicle traffic from train traffic in the 42 mile corridor between Spokane, WA and Athol, ID. A map of the corridor and project sites within it can be viewed below.
The separation of railroad and roadway grades in this corridor—which includes 75 railroad/roadway crossings—will promote future economic growth, traffic movement, traffic safety, and train whistle noise abatement. The BTV projects include constructing road overpasses or underpasses at most existing railroad/ roadway crossings on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) corridor, as well as relocating the existing Union Pacific (UPRR) mainline between Spokane and Athol to an alignment within BNSF’s mainline corridor, eliminating all mainline at-grade crossings on the UPRR line.
What will BTV accomplish?By removing all at-grade rail crossings, Bridging the Valley will:
- Improve public safety by reducing rail/vehicle collisions;
- Improve emergency access to residents and businesses along the corridor;
- Eliminate waiting times for cars and trucks at rail crossings;
- Reduce noise levels, especially train whistles near crossings;
- Improve traffic flow due to separated grade crossings; and
- Enhance development opportunities with a single rail corridor served by the region’s largest railroads.
What are the specific improvements?BTV will:
- Construct approximately 19 separated grade crossings within the BNSF corridor. This will modify eight existing crossings and create approximately 11 additional grade separated crossings. Construct additional track capacity on the BNSF corridor between Spokane and Athol, which today consists of both single and double mainline track. This area will be expanded by generally adding one track — with occasional need for two additional tracks in some locations
— to the existing mainline within the railroad right of way;
- Install improvements to the existing Centralized Train Control signaling system;
- Construct a new two-track bridge over the Spokane River;
- Construct a new UPRR Yard;
- Provide other track improvements in yards and connections; and
- Remove a majority of the UPRR mainline and the associated crossings.
The map below shows the overall alignment of the project and associated roadway and railroad grade crossings. Click on each of the grade crossings for more information and detail or click the link below the map for the fact sheet for each individual project.
What is the Timeline?Only one BTV project, the Havana Street Bridge, has been completed to date. As of winter 2012, there are no plans to construct other BTV projects within the next two years, possibly longer. Due to the current economic situation and the lack of money to fund major transportation projects, there has been a delay in constructing BTV projects. There is a small amount of money allocated to future BTV projects. The Barker Road project has received $1 million in earmarks and there is $5 million in federal funding available to put toward a BTV project in Idaho. Those projects have not been started yet as that money will only fund a portion of each project.
How are environmental concerns being addressed?The BTV project construction will take place within an existing railroad mainline corridor. As the project moves through the engineering and environmental process, the project team will determine what permits and approvals are required, the appropriate level of environmental analysis, whether the project would adversely affect any threatened or endangered species, the aquifer, or wetlands along the route, and the answers to any other important environmental questions.