Yesterday (June 5) a long-awaited project to improve safety on State Highway 53 near Hauser was awarded a $36 million grant, which could move construction up several years.
The project includes closing three at-grade railroad crossings and building a new interchange at Pleasant View Road and SH-53. About 46 train movements are recorded at the crossings each day.
“When the highway is blocked by trains, it cuts off communities on the prairie and potentially delays emergency services,” Engineering Manager Marvin Fenn said. “This project will make it safer for everyone by carrying cars up and over train traffic at one consolidated point at Pleasant View. Traffic will no longer be blocked, and trains won’t have to blow their horns when passing through.”
The department is evaluating the conditions of the grant as well as ongoing and future projects on SH-53 to determine how early construction of this two-year project can start.
“We had been planning to build it starting in 2028, but now we’re looking to build it much sooner,” Fenn said.
Funding comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration. Project partners include the BNSF Railway and the Post Falls Highway District with both entities contributing $3 million and $2 million respectively. ITD will contribute $4 million toward construction of the project. Construction is expected to total $45 million.
The project was first identified during a 2006 study called Bridging the Valley, which created a list of projects that would separate all vehicle traffic from train traffic along 42 miles of highway between Spokane, Washington, and Athol, Idaho.