Each year in Illinois, 50 to 60 people are killed and another 70 to 100 injured in highway-rail grade crossing collisions, or while trespassing on railroad property. Communities interested in partnering with the ICC on a rail safety education or enforcement program, may submit a proposal describing railroad safety concerns in the area, proposed education and/or enforcement activities, and the amount of the grant request.
In 2001, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) helped launch the project now known as PEERS (Public Education and Enforcement Research Study) after convening roundtable meetings of state and local officials to discuss ways to improve safety at railroad crossings in Illinois:
"This successful partnership between the Federal Railroad Administration and the Illinois Commerce Commission came out of a terrible tragedy - a fatal train crash in Bourbonnais in 1999 that forced us all to sit down and reexamine the safety of Illinois rail crossings," said Durbin. "Since then, the PEERS program has dramatically reduced rail crossing violations, by as much as 71 percent in Northeastern Illinois. With this funding we are able to continue to promote rail safety and prevent future tragedies. I strongly encourage all communities affected by rail traffic to apply for these grants."
Commission Chairman Charles Box reinforced this message. "The ICC is committed to improving safety and reducing train/vehicle collisions at all highway-rail grade crossings in Illinois, and improving public awareness of the dangers of trespassing on railroad rights-of-way. Federal funding provided through the PEERS program has allowed the Commission to work with local communities to improve public education and enforcement efforts," Box added.
The deadline to submit proposals is noon on September 15, 2009. Proposals selected for funding will be announced on or after October 1, 2009. The grants will be awarded for projects to be implemented between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010.
Proposals should be submitted to Jeremy Kirk in the Administrative Services Division of the Illinois Commerce Commission, 527 E. Capitol Avenue, Springfield, Illinois, 62701.