The Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program has just grown by about $570 million as it was recently given more funding by the Federal Railroad Administration. This funding is set to be distributed among 32 states and will be dedicated to helping improve safety and lessen the number of traffic backups happening at approximately 400 large railway crossings across the country. With this new funding, they will also begin to add grade separations, closing gates at grade crossings, and implement other tactics to improve already established crossings where train tracks intersect with the road.
This new funding comes in response to 2,000+ highway/rail accidents happening in the US as well as nearly 30,000 reports of crossings being blocked.
The current Transportation Secretary under the Biden Administration, Pete Buttigieg released a statement discussing how much time is lost for drivers because of blocked crossings. He continued to express how most often these sorts of scenarios also result in a collision, which could have been fully prevented. For years the FRA has received complaining messages regarding the blockings and other delays these complicated crossings have caused. There have been times when people have been stuck for hours at a crossing due to blockages, and the FRA has heard and is finally taking action.
The delays have even been so severe that they have even caused issues for first responders.
FRA Administrator Amir Bose released a statement stating that the projects they are first delegating the funds will be saving lives and “reshape infrastructure in ways that allow individuals to move through their neighborhoods seamlessly and safely.”
The FRA also gave money to projects that will ideally lead to more money being made that can then be used for more projects. For example, The West Belt Improvement Project was awarded $37 million, and the Governors Parkway Railroad Overpass Project was given $7 million.
Back in 2019, the FRA suggested a rule that would establish requirements for states to create highway-rail grade crossing plans or update plans they currently had. The FMCSA responded by saying that they already had about 250,000 crossings that met this criterion, but the FRA reported that approximately 94% of all reported fatalities that occurred on a railway occurred at a railroad crossing.
The FRA later did officiate a rule that required 40 states and Washington DC to build actual, effective highway-rail crossing plans. Now with this built-up fund, they will be able to further this goal.