Sunday was the last day Vancouver’s 8th St. railroad crossing was open for auto traffic. BNSF and the City of Vancouver are closing the crossing as part of the larger rail project to improve freight transit through town. For now 8th St. will close and traffic will detour over the adjacent Jefferson St. crossing. With 8th St. closed BNSF can remove the shoofly used to route rail traffic around the 6th St. and Esther St. underpass construction sites. With the shoofly gone contractors can resume work connecting up 6th St. with 7th St. using the underpass. Once that connections opens Jefferson St. will close leaving only 11th St. with an at grade crossing. From what I can read on the City’s website by the end of 2013 the underpass will be in use and Jefferson St. will close.
8th St. was always a unique spot. In 1993 when I first moved to town it was the first crossing I crossed in search of trains. Looking north/west I was impressed by all the signals and railroad infrastructure visible from that spot. I still remember that as one of my first impressions of Vancouver railroading. Who knew at that point I’d cross that same crossing hundreds of times and that it would eventually close?
8th St. hosted one of the most interesting crossing signals around. It looked like most normal crossing flashers but it had the “Stop” bar below the regular flashing lights. While this wasn’t a wig-wag it still made this crossing very unique. This arrangement lasted until the crossing was rebuilt in early 2011 with the shoofly installation. At that time modern gates and flashers went into service.
To celebrate the last day of the crossing being open I shot a couple of trains including the M-SPOLVJ and the Empire Builder. In the Empire Builder image it is clear materials and equipment are in place for tomorrow’s closing. So long 8th St!
M-SPOLVJ crosses 8th St. Sunday Morning. In less than 24 hours this view will not be possible.
Amtrak’s Empire Builder crosses 8th St. Equipment and materials are staged for tomorrow’s closing.