Thursday, March 25, 2010

ICC issues five-year rail crossing safety improvement plan

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The Illinois Commerce Commission approved the FY 2011-2015 Crossing Safety Improvement Program 5-Year Plan this month. The 5-Year Plan includes nearly $200 million in assistance from the Grade Crossing Protection Fund for safety improvements at more than 2,200 highway-rail crossings of roads and streets across the state in the next five years.

The scope of the projects included in the Five-Year Plan range from automatic flashing light and signal upgrades, which can cost nearly $200,000 each, to multi-million dollar grade separation (bridge or tunnel) projects. For the fiscal year 2011 alone, the Plan includes $39.1 million in assistance from the GCPF for five bridge projects and 125 new grade crossing projects.  For fiscal years 2012-2015, the Plan includes nearly $157.4 million in GCPF assistance for 20 bridge projects and 1,788 new grade crossing projects.

Low cost improvements, such as the installation of new reflective crossbuck warning signs and Yield signs at crossings that do not require automatic warning devices and the modification of existing remote monitoring devices at crossings equipped with active warning devices, also are included in the Plan.

The annual Five-Year Plan outlines the statutory obligation and goals for improving public safety at rail crossings across the state.  With its focus squarely on the "Three E's" (Education, Enforcement and Engineering), the Commission orders safety improvements at public highway-rail crossings with the cost of such improvements paid for using funds from the state's Grade Crossing Protection Fund, the railroads and local governments.

The Illinois General Assembly created the Grade Crossing Protection Fund to support the majority of the cost of improvements at highway-rail grade crossings and highway-rail bridge crossings involving local roads and streets.

The report, "Crossing Safety Improvement Plan," is posted on the ICC's website at: http://www.icc.illinois.gov/.

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