The U.S. Department of Transportation provided $40 million in grants on January 14 to five states seeking to improve highway-railway line crossing safety.
[Above photo by the FRA.]
The agency said that the Federal Highway Administration is issuing those grants in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration to commuter rail authorities in California, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington.
To be eligible to receive those grants, a commuter authority must have experienced at least one accident investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2018, and for which the NTSB issued an accident report.
USDOT noted that the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations or THUD Act of 2020 – passed as part of a year-end legislative package on December 27 – appropriated $50 million in Commuter Authority Rail Safety Improvement or CARSI grants to help fund improvements in highway-railway line crossing safety.
The FHWA noted in a statement that projects eligible for those grants include 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.
FHWA also expects to issue a notice of funding opportunity to initiate round two of the CARSI grant competition and invite eligible applicants to compete for the remaining CARSI funds in the coming months.
The agency added that the number of incidents and fatalities at highway-railway crossings across the country between 2010 and 2019. During that 10-year period, FHWA said 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.