The U.S. Department of Transportation today provided $40 million in grants to States seeking to improve safety where highways and rail lines cross. The grants, awarded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA), will help commuter rail authorities in California, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington eliminate hazards at highway-railway crossings.
“This $40 million in grants will help States improve safety at commuter rail crossings in rural and urban areas across America,” said Acting U.S. Transportation Secretary Steven Bradbury.
The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2020, appropriated $50 million in Commuter Authority Rail Safety Improvement (CARSI) Grants Program funding to be awarded by FHWA for highway-railway crossing-related projects, including those that separate or protect grades at crossings; rebuild existing railroad grade crossing structures; relocate highways to eliminate grade crossings; and eliminate hazards posed by blocked grade crossings due to idling trains.
By statute, an eligible commuter authority must have experienced at least one accident investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2018, and for which the NTSB issued an accident report. From 2010 to 2019, there was an increase in the number of incidents and fatalities at highway-railway crossings across the country. Over this 10-year period, the overall number of incidents and fatalities increased by 6.3 percent and 10.1 percent respectively, while the overall number of injuries declined by 10.5 percent.
“The safety of those traveling on our Nation’s roadways, including where those roads intersect with railways, is of paramount importance to the Federal Highway Administration,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Mala Parka. “These grants can help States save the lives of motorists and pedestrians at these crossings.”
“Separation or protection of grades at crossings will not only improve and ensure the safety of rail passengers, pedestrians and motorists, but will also keep rail moving on time,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Ronald Batory.
“We are committed along with our partners in FHWA and FRA to improve safety around highway-rail crossings,” said FTA Deputy Administrator Jane Williams. “Today’s grant announcement will help ensure Americans are safe near rail crossings.”