Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ten states get deadline for grade-crossing plans

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Ten states get deadline for grade-crossing plans | Railway Track & Structures

Ten states that lead the nation in the number of highway-rail grade-crossing deaths -- Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio and Texas --have until Aug. 27, 2011, to complete five-year action plans that address highway-rail grade crossing accidents, Occupational Health & Safety's Website reported.

The Federal Railroad Administration published a final rule June 28 starting the clock for these states, which were chosen because they are the 10 with the most reported highway-rail grade crossing accidents/incidents during 2006, 2007 and 2008. FRA set Aug. 27, 2010, as the rule's effective date and gave the 10 states one year from that date to prepare their plans.

"States can reasonably develop such plans within one year from the date this regulation goes into effect," the rule states. "A five-year period is appropriate because many of the remedial actions that may be included in these plans (e.g., closures and grade separations) may take up to five years to implement. In addition, any identified State that has already developed an action plan in conjunction with a recommendation from DOT's Office of Inspector General must ensure compliance with this final rule and must resubmit the plan as required."

Congress ordered FRA to enact this rule. FRA held a public hearing in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 22, 2010, and also received comments that urged it to consider how many collisions occur in each state relative to the number of vehicles and the number of highway-rail grade crossings there, as well as consider actions each state has taken to reduce grade crossing collisions. But FRA declined both suggestions because Congress' direction about the rule was clear: identify the 10 states that have had the most highway-rail grade crossing collisions, on average, over the past three years.

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