Rail safety projects nationwide receive $570 million boost

November 10, 2023

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Authority (FRA) has made more than $570 million available to 63 bridge and underpass projects in 32 states to eliminate railroad crossing delays and collisions.

This was the first round of funding awarded through the FRA’s Railroad Crossing Elimination (RCE) grant program that will address more than 400 at-grade crossings nationwide over the next four years.

There were more than 2,000 highway-rail crossing collisions in the U.S. and more than 30,000 reports of blocked crossings submitted to FRA’s public complaint portal in 2022, the DoT said. Delays and disruptions can also prevent first responders from getting to emergencies quickly.

In addition to projects that build or upgrade physical infrastructure at railroad crossings, FRA awarded $15.7 million for planning activities and $33.1 million for project development and design activities that will build a pipeline of projects for future funding. More than $127.5 million, or 22% of the total, was awarded to projects in rural areas or on tribal lands.

RCE Program funding will be made available annually. Project selections for other grant programs that will improve freight rail safety and efficiency, strengthen supply chains and expand the passenger rail network will be announced in the coming months, the DoT said.

Examples of major projects receiving funding this year include:

  • $41.8 million to eliminate two rail crossings on Shelby County Road 52 in Pelham, Alabama. Improvements will establish a permanent, reliable route for emergency responders and decrease delays for the 24,000 drivers utilizing County Road 52 daily. A new bridge will increase capacity to five lanes with a multi-use path to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. These safety improvements will also strengthen the state’s supply chain, as more than 30 daily trains destined for the Port of the Mobile travel the CSX line through Pelham.
  • $36.9 million for the West Belt Improvement project in Houston, which involves building a 9,000-foot sealed corridor and four underpasses to eliminate seven at-grade road-rail crossings where 850 incidents of train blockages have been reported.
  • $40.5 million for the 32nd Street Underpass Project in Washougal, Washington. It involves designing a rail bridge and underpass and reconstructing five key intersections that officials say will better connect the Addy Street neighborhood to downtown and port areas.
  • $15.4 million to improve safety at 21 grade crossings along Florida’s East Coast Rail Corridor that runs through Broward County. The corridor is a freight rail that is shared with an intercity passenger rail service. Along the corridor, 17% of collisions are caused by motorists driving around entrance gates. Nearly 60% of those instances occurred in Broward County. The project involves building 33 exit gates and seven raised medians at crossings where at least 27 collisions have occurred over the last five years.

Miles Smith

Miles Smith has more than two decades of communications experience in the public and private sectors, including several years of covering local governments for various daily and weekly print publications. His scope of work includes handling public relations for large private-sector corporations and managing public-facing communications for local governments.

Smith has recently joined the team as a content writer for SPI’s news publications, which include Texas Government Insider, Government Contracting Pipeline and its newest digital product, Government Market News, which launched in September 2023. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s in journalism.

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