The city of Tacoma installed new signage and barriers this week to help make the railroad crossing at McCarver Street safer in the wake of the deaths of two joggers there and pressure from the community to improve pedestrian safety.
It’s just the beginning of improvements the city hopes to make at the double-track crossing near Ruston Way, transportation engineer Brennan Kidd said.
“We’ve put in some signing and barricading on the west side of McCarver to make sure any pedestrian crossings are happening on the east side of McCarver,” the same side as The Spar and Old Town Bicycle, Kidd said.
The double set of tracks can be confusing to pedestrians who think it’s safe to cross after a train clears one track because they can’t see another train coming down the second set.
The city has installed signs to let pedestrians know there is a double track in that area and to remind them that crossing the railroad tracks is allowed only on the east side of the street. Barricades were installed on the west side of McCarver on both sides of the tracks to prevent access.
The signage and barriers are what the city could do in the short-term without seeking authority from other agencies, including Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, which owns the tracks. But, it is planning longer-term safety improvements and working with BNSF on those, Kidd said.
“There is going to be more discussion and more thought about what further can be done, but those are going to take some more time and more coordination,” he said.
He said the city investigated over the past several weeks to see what could be done in the short term to alert people to the dangers of that crossing.
“We spent time to really look at what’s going on down there and what a would-be pedestrian might encounter or think about how to cross those tracks,” Kidd said.