Illinois looks to improve safety at almost 500 railroad crossings

Written by RT&S Staff
image description
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio grants money for grade crossing improvements.
Operation Lifesaver, Inc.

The Illinois Commerce Commission approved its annual five-year Crossing Safety Improvement Program to begin implementing highway-rail safety capital projects for local roads across the state.

For FY 2022-2026, the ICC will spend $341 million from the Grade Crossing Protection Fund (GCPF) to help local communities and railroads pay for safety improvements at nearly 500 crossing locations. The plan also allocates $78 million from the Rebuild Illinois (RBI) capital program for the installation of grade-crossing protection or grade separations not limited to local routes or other restrictions. 

“Through the bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital plan, my administration is making critical investments in infrastructure and safety projects across the state that have been neglected for too long,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker. “This $78 million investment will allow local communities to install life-saving rail-safety measures at nearly 500 crossing locations over the next five years with the goal of reducing fatal crashes and making our roads safer.” 

“Improving safety at public rail-highway crossings is a top priority for the ICC to protect lives and prevent train-related collisions,” said ICC Chairman Carrie Zalewski. “The five-year program we approved prioritizes and provides funding for important rail crossing safety projects in communities across Illinois.” 

Projects are prioritized based upon several criteria, including the relative safety of the existing crossing, volume, and types of existing train and highway traffic. After a project is prioritized based on engineering requirements, geographic location also is consider to ensure projects are awarded across the state as equitably as possible. 

The GCPF, appropriated to the Illinois Department of Transportation but administered by the ICC, was created by state law to assist local jurisdictions (counties, townships, and municipalities) in paying for safety improvements at highway-rail crossings on local roads and streets only. In addition, the plan includes $78 million as part of the Rebuild Illinois capital program. These funds have been appropriated to IDOT from the Multi-Modal Transportation Bond Fund for grade-crossing protection or grade-separation projects as ordered by the ICC. 

For FY 2022, the ICC will consider projects requiring commitments from the GCPF totaling nearly $49.7 million and the RBI totaling $34.5 million. Around the state these projects include: 

  • $1 million for the Country Club Road bridge reconstruction in Metropolis, Massac County; 
  • $2.5 million for the County Highway 10 bridge rehabilitation project in Galesburg; 
  • $5 million for the Uptown Underpass in the town of Normal; 
  • $9 million for traffic signal and RXR warning device upgrades at an intersection in University Park, Will County; 
  • $18 million for the Woodside and Iron Bridge Road bridges, Sangamon County; 
  • $20 million for the Laraway Road Bridge in Joliet; 
  • $22 million towards the Madison and Jefferson Street bridges, Springfield; 
  • $24 million towards the Grand Avenue Grade Separation in Elmwood Park; and 
  • $25 million towards at-grade crossing improvements at over 40 locations. 

Illinois is second only to Texas in the total number of highway-rail crossings. Illinois has 7,557 public highway-rail grade crossings in Illinois, of which 749 are on state roads, and 6,808 are on local roads. There are 2,699 public highway-rail grade-separated crossings (bridges) in the state. 

In 2020, preliminary statistics indicate there were 82 collisions at public highway-rail crossings in Illinois, compared to 104 in 2019, a 21.2% decrease. Total fatalities resulting from collisions at highway-rail crossings in Illinois decreased from 19 in 2019 to 17 in 2020. 

To obtain the full FY 2022-2026 Crossing Safety Improvement Program five-year plan with the full list of projects click here

Read more articles on safety.

Tags: , , , , ,