PREPROPOSAL STATEMENT OF INQUIRY
Subject of Possible Rule Making: Rules relating to railroad company operations. The commission will review provisions codified in chapter 480-62 WAC to consider whether existing rules should be modified or repealed. In addition, the commission will consider new rules requiring notification of: Any activity that may affect a surrounding community; company ownership changes and related information; remote control train operations; and company time tables, bulletins, and notices. The commission will also consider new rules concerning: Blocking crossings; maintenance and standards regarding crossing surfaces, crossing signals and circuitry; safety and operating rules regarding industrial railroads, commuter rail, and track motor cars; and whistle ban procedures and petitions for grade crossings improvements. The commission will also consider adopting by reference, applicable portions of the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Highway Administration regulations and railroad company General Codes of Operating Rules (GCOR). Related issues brought up by stakeholders may also be considered.
Statutes Authorizing the Agency to Adopt Rules on this Subject: RCW 80.01.040, 81.01.010, 81.04.160, 81.53.420, and 81.61.020.
Reasons Why Rules on this Subject may be Needed and What They Might Accomplish: (1) Executive Order 97-02 requires agencies to review significant rules against specific standards identified in the order. This includes reviewing whether current rules provide the results that they were originally intended to achieve and whether the rules are consistent with laws and with appropriate and lawful policies.
(2) Technological advances and changes in railroad company business practices have resulted in a need to explore whether federal standards and safety rules should be adopted; whether new reporting and notification requirements are appropriate; whether the commission's process for company petitions can be streamlined; and whether rules are necessary to establish procedures for considering petitions for whistle bans. New rules may be needed to protect the public welfare and safety.
Other Federal and State Agencies that Regulate this Subject and the Process Coordinating the Rule with These Agencies: The Federal Railroad Administration, Washington State Department of Transportation, Washington Department of Labor and Industries and the Washington Military Department may have parallel or overlapping jurisdiction. Staff will work directly with these agencies and consider these agencies' rules and laws to ensure consistency where appropriate.
Process for Developing New Rule: Agency study; and the commission will call for initial written comments, and will provide the opportunity for interested persons to make additional comments throughout the rule-making process. The commission will schedule one or more workshops with the representatives of affected constituencies and other interested parties in a manner designed to develop consensus regarding any rule proposal.
Interested parties can participate in the decision to adopt the new rule and formulation of the proposed rule before publication by contacting the Secretary, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, WA 98504-7250, (360) 664-1174, fax (360) 586-1150. Such persons may submit comments, as specified below, or may ask to be included in the commission's list of interested persons for the proceeding.
Written Comments: Written comments in response to the CR-101 from persons interested in the subject matter of this proposed rule making may be filed with the commission secretary, referencing Docket No. TR-981102, not later than April 30, 1999. All commenters are asked, but not required, to file an original and ten copies of their written comments. The commission also requests, but does not require, that comments be provided on a 3 1/2 inch IBM formatted high-density disk, in WordPerfect version 51. [5.1], 6.0 or 6.1, labeled with the docket number of this proceeding and the commenter's name and type of software used. The commission may offer additional opportunities to provide written comments. Interested persons may file additional written comments in response to any such invitation. Interested persons may also attend and participate in the workshop described below and in any other workshop or opportunity for written comments that may be scheduled or provided. The commission will provide written notice of any additional preproposal workshops to all commenters and to any other persons specifically asking to receive notice in this rule-making proceeding.
Notice of Workshop: A workshop will be held on May 27, 1999, beginning at 9:30 a.m., in the Commission's Hearing Room, Room 206, Second Floor, Chandler Plaza, 1300 South Evergreen Park Drive S.W., Olympia, WA. The commission's teleconference bridge line will be available for this workshop. A limited number of teleconference ports will be available and will be assigned one to an organization, on a first come first served basis. Persons wishing to attend via the teleconference bridge line must contact Jennifer Watsek at (360) 664-1139 no later than 5:00 p.m., May 25, 1999. Questions may be addressed to Kim Dobyns at (360) 664-1242 or e-mail at <email@example.com>.
March 31, 1999
Carole J. Washburn