Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor

Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor

Website URL:

Wednesday, 02 September 2015 09:22

WMATA submits audit report to FTA

Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) submitted the results of its Federal Year 2014 Audit to the Federal Transit Administration.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is soliciting applications for $10 million in competitive grant funding available to states to improve highway-rail grade crossings and track along routes that transport energy products, such as crude oil and ethanol.

The guidelines for the grant applications set by the FRA encourage states to include innovative solutions to improve safety, especially at highway-rail grade crossings. The funding is part of the Railroad Safety grants for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) by Rail Program.

"The U.S. Department of Transportation has made increasing safety at highway-rail grade crossings, especially along routes transporting energy products, one of its top priorities," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This money allows the department to support innovative ideas and solutions developed at the local level and I encourage states to apply for this funding."

Highway-rail grade crossings collisions are the second-leading cause of all railroad-related fatalities. Last year, 269 individuals died in these collisions. While the number of fatalities has decreased for the last several decades, this number increased last year for the first time this decade.

FRA notes that highway-rail grade crossing accidents are frequently the result of a driver's lack of awareness of a crossing or an oncoming train or a driver's attempt to "beat the train." Earlier this year, FRA ramped up its campaign to prevent collisions and save lives at highway-rail grade crossings through greater education, stronger enforcement and smarter engineering. To accomplish this, FRA developed key partnerships and has: worked with Google and other technology companies to integrate FRA's grade-crossing location data to provide audio and visual alerts when using turn-by-turn navigation applications; partnered with local law enforcement agencies to increase enforcement at railroad crossings and supported research on grade crossing technology.

"Most of these deaths are completely preventable and that is why the Federal Railroad Administration has redoubled its efforts to reverse last year's upward trend. These funds will allow states to take innovative ideas and make them a reality to increase safety and decrease fatalities," said FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg.

Through the GROW AMERICA Act, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has proposed creating new grant program that would make $250 million available to local communities for highway-rail grade crossings, as well as other critical rail infrastructure projects. In addition, USDOT has proposed continuing Federal Highway Administration's $220-million per-year dedicated grant program for highway-rail grade-crossing projects.

Earlier this year, USDOT released its rule that raises the bar on the safety of transporting crude oil by rail. The rule requires stronger tank cars and 21st century electronically controlled pneumatic brakes that activate simultaneously on all tank cars, reduce the distance and time needed for a train to stop and keep more tank cars on the track if a train does derail. USDOT has also required that railroads transporting crude oil notify State Emergency Response Commissions of the movement of crude oil through individual states.


Tuesday, 01 September 2015 12:19

Ground breaks on Permian Rail Park in Texas

Twin Eagle Sand Logistics, LLC, a subsidiary of Twin Eagle Resource Management, LLC, has broken ground on the Permian Rail Park located on the Union Pacific, approximately eight miles west of the city of Big Spring, Texas. The 530-acre rail park is Twin Eagle's fifth terminal development and is centrally located to serve the Eastern side of the Permian Basin.

Elissa Konove, the chief financial officer at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), has been named the deputy chief executive officer at Metrolink, effective September 14.

Following extensive input from the public and local governments across the region, the Sound Transit Board identified the projects that will be studied as potential candidates for a November 2016 Sound Transit 3 ballot measure.

Results of studies completed during the coming months will help the board decide which of the projects should be included in a draft ballot measure for more public input early next year. The candidate projects are listed here.

Sound Transit 3 will respond to the strong support across the region for additional mass transit expansions as the region's population grows by an estimated 1 million residents through 2040. The projected growth is equivalent to adding the current combined populations of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett.

In June and July, Sound Transit received thousands of written comments and survey responses on which projects from the regional transit Long-Range Plan represent the highest priorities. A total of 1,025 people submitted written comments at meetings across the region and by e-mail and mail and more than 70 local governments and organizations sent comment letters. The nearly 25,000 people who took a non-scientific online survey more than doubled the response to 2014 public involvement that guided board actions to update the Long-Range Plan.

Public input reflected strong continuing support for priorities including but not limited to extensions of light-rail to Everett, Tacoma and downtown Redmond; light-rail extensions to Seattle's Ballard and West Seattle areas and an array of other potential investments including additional light-rail extensionsand Sounder commuter rail services and facilities.

Each of the identified candidate projects will be studied to generate estimates of ridership, capital operating and maintenance costs; travel times and reliability; potential for transit-oriented development and other factors including benefits, needs and potential risks.


The North Carolina Department of Transportation's (NCDOT) Rail Division recently made crossing safety improvements at an intersection near Kernersville, N.C.

Workers began installing the first sections of rail on the $388-million Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Double Track Project, which will build a second track over an 18-mile stretch between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma stations.

As part of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority's (WMATA) investigation into the cause of an August 6 derailment, a technical incident report has been released.

The Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) approved an updated set of rules for transporting hazardous materials by rail. Combined with Oregon Department of Transportation's (ODOT) addition of four rail inspectors, the rules aim to improve the state's ability to both prevent incidents and respond to them if they do occur.

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Pollack joined Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse along with state and local officials Aug. 27 to celebrate the opening of the new $4.3-million Holyoke Train Station on the Knowledge Corridor and restoration of Amtrak Vermonter Line service.

Page 18 of 295