Missouri State Budget Includes $83.5 Million in Rail Safety Improvements

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
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Photo: MoDOT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s state budget allocates over $80 million to improve safety at its rail crossings after an Amtrak passenger train collided with a dump truck one year ago.

KSHB reported Missouri’s state budget for the 2024 fiscal year, which began this past weekend on July 1st, “includes roughly $83.5 million allocated to the Missouri Department of Transportation to improve railroad-crossing safety through a combination of dedicated taxes, a one-time expenditure of general funds and federal dollars.” A year ago, “an Amtrak passenger train collided with a dump truck one year ago near Mendon, Missouri.” The crash is still closed after killing four people and injuring many others. The MoDOT reports “12 people killed in collisions with trains during 2022.”

Currently, most of the money comes from “a $50 million allocation from the state’s General Revenue Fund,” after the state has dedicated over $7 million over the last several years to rail safety projects. In total, the MoDOT estimates the overall total costs “to upgrade all public passive railroad crossings with flashing lights and gates is approximately $700 million,” and the projects would take over two decades to finish.

According to KSHB, Governor Mike Parson recommended $35 million with $25 million coming from general revenues and the remaining $10 million coming in the form of federal funds. Parson commented that this allocation would “partner ‘with local communities and railroads to improve safety at public railroad crossings’.”

The Missouri Department of Transported “requested $50 million. . . to complete an equivalent of six years of projects,” and stated that the funding could match other such federal grant programs like “the Railroad Crossing Elimination Program or the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement Program.”

The funds, which include “$1.5 million generated annually for the Grade Crossing Safety Account,” are “collected and allocated ‘for protection of the public against hazards existing at railroad crossings’ and was designed to fund” 25 railroad crossing improvements yearly. $6 million comes from federal highway funds, and $26 million comes from federal grant money via the FAST act.

Roughly half of Missouri’s 6,564 rail crossings are not equipped with warning devices. They “are passive crossings with signs.” The estimated costs to “add new lights and gates at a passive crossing” equal $400,000 according to the MoDOT. Due to inflated costs of construction, only 19 or so projects a year would see funding.

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