The INVEST in America Act includes some new initiatives to address a series of rail-highway grade crossing problems. The bill calls for an updated U.S. DOT national highway-rail crossing inventory, collecting data on suicides at railroad crossings and along rail lines, along with concerns from emergency responders groups about railroad crossings that are blocked for a significant period of time.
Rules contained in the bill say that if a rail crossing is blocked for more than 10 minutes, various penalties may be levied on the railroad. There are certain exceptions, though. The effort would include several approaches, including public service officers and what their roles would be, using data collected when crossings are blocked, grants that bring attention to the safety of grade crossings, and even how positive train control (PTC) and other technologies might be able to help.
Longer freight trains, brought about largely by precision scheduled railroading, which can increase the frequency of blocked crossings, have gotten the attention of Congress, particularly the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
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