BNSF Railway making SODO lighting changes to resolve West Seattle-facing ‘brightness issue’

(WSB photo of BNSF SIG lights as seen pre-dusk from NB 99 earlier this fall)

This past summer, a change in the lighting at BNSF Railway‘s yard in SODO was glaringly obvious, so to speak, for some east-facing West Seattle residents. The railroad said in a Twitter exchange with one West Seattleite three months ago that it planned to make changes. Finally, those changes are being made. Max tipped us today that BNSF regional spokesperson Courtney Wallace had sent word that work is under way, and she confirmed to WSB:

We are installing a series of color filters that are meant to resolve the brightness issue and will be re-aiming the current fixtures. Work on the north side of our SIG yard has been completed by our environmental team. Filters will be applied to lights in the main SIG yard this Tuesday and Wednesday 12/18-12/19 and continuing on Friday. We hope to have the project complete by this weekend.

(SIG stands for Seattle International Gateway.) Though east-facing West Seattleites are used to port and bridge lighting, the brightness of these fixtures were described by multiple people we heard from as “light pollution.”

14 Replies to "BNSF Railway making SODO lighting changes to resolve West Seattle-facing 'brightness issue'"

  • ScottAmick December 17, 2018 (1:31 pm)

    Thanks for the follow-up coverage.  I drove northbound 99 a few nights ago and didn’t notice the change but maybe it wasn’t started yet.  I’d repeat what I tweeted about awhile back (linked above) that SSA Marine’s Terminal 18 lighting redo was designed so much better than BNSF’s.

  • Lumens in the Sky December 17, 2018 (1:32 pm)

    All uncontrolled lighting that allows light into the atmosphere is  ‘light pollution’.   Lighting that ‘escapes’ its intended use is a waste of energy and such light that goes skyward is refracted by the atmosphere wastefully creating the light glow in our sky, eliminating the visibility of many stars and planets.

  • Jim December 17, 2018 (3:10 pm)

    You are exactly right, Lumens.  Those lights need physical, reflective shields to keep light from escaping the intended target and into the environment.  Aren’t we all trying to stop wasting energy??Port lighting at their terminals is properly shielded.

  • valvashon December 17, 2018 (4:12 pm)

    I found it actually nice to have NB 99 at that point lit up.  The SDOT/WSDOT lighting on that part is weak at best.  Hoping they will improve the 99 lighting while the road is closed.

  • rpo December 17, 2018 (5:17 pm)

    Those lights are definitely bright, but I think one main reason is that none of the overhead lights on 99 have been functional there in quite some time….just like the south side of the West Seattle Bridge that has been out for two months now.

  • D December 17, 2018 (9:14 pm)

    Is the shipping container storage area part of the Port or Railway?

    • Jim December 17, 2018 (10:07 pm)

      The lights in question are on BNSF property.

    • Jim December 17, 2018 (10:22 pm)

      The containers you see to the West of 99 and East Marginal are on Port property,  Terminals 25 and 30.

      • D December 18, 2018 (1:34 pm)

        Thanks Jim.  

  • NoMoreSunglasss December 18, 2018 (7:02 am)

    Thank you BNSF for correcting this. Last night we could look out over the city and enjoy it. Those  babies were really bright.

  • ScottAmick December 18, 2018 (7:45 am)

    Definite improvement this morning.  Especially in rainy conditions the glare of the lights makes it harder to see what’s on the very dark, puddly road in front of me.  It looks like the row of lights closest to 99 has had little or no work done yet but the other couple of rows are way better already.

  • wsn00b December 19, 2018 (8:47 pm)

    Hey BNSF, while you are attempting to be good neighbors, can you please clean up the garbage, weeds and debris on your property line along 99 too? Please maintain your property (use SDOT, WSDOT for help as needed) just like other residents of Seattle.

  • ScottAmick December 21, 2018 (8:42 am)

    Even better this morning.  The western most row of lights seemed to be pointing mostly downward this morning.  So much better.

  • Catbird December 21, 2018 (12:27 pm)

    Thank you so much for fixing these lights!  These have been so bright the last few months, I felt like I was the only one to notice them.  I  didn’t know who to submit a complaint to, so thanks to those who figured out who the culprit is.  I kept searching the WSB to see if others noticed, but found no posts until today when I noticed that they were considerably better, and couldn’t believe my eyes that they really fixed it.  Thanks!

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