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The U.S. Coast Guard is soliciting public comments on BNSF Railway Co.'s plans to build a movable rail bridge across Salmon Bay west of the Ballard Locks in Seattle.The proposed structure would replace an existing bascule bridge that spans the Lake Washington Ship Canal. The bridge is a critical link to BNSF's network to the north, south and east, according to the Class I’s "Inside Track" newsletter. Thirty to 40 trains cross the century-old bridge daily, including Sounder and Amtrak passenger trains."Manufacturers, distributors and retailers depend on daily rail shipments that cross the bridge to supply their operations. Shipments to and from the ports of Seattle and Tacoma rely on the rail line that depends on the bridge," the newsletter states.Over the years, BNSF has invested millions of dollars to maintain and upgrade the bridge, which was built in 1913. The Class I has observed fatigue of the bridge's counterweight truss and the trunnion bearings are wearing out, according to the newsletter.The proposed design of the new bridge — which is estimated to cost $200 million — is a vertical lift span with 155 feet of vertical clearance."We are seeking input from the maritime community to ensure the vertical clearance meets current and future needs for vessels," BNSF officials wrote in the newsletter.The Coast Guard will accept written comments through Oct. 31.
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