Earlier this month, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced it had awarded more than $570 million to the Railroad Crossing Elimination (RCE), a grant program which will be used to fund 63 infrastructure projects across 32 states.
Like the FMCSA or FHWA, the FRA is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Transportation. The agency’s central purpose is to promote and enforce rail safety regulations while administering railroad assistance programs as well.
The June 5 announcement kicked off the inaugural round of funding. The large monetary package will look to address more than 400 at-grade crossings nationwide and improve safety between road vehicles and trains by adding grade separations, making it easier to get around railroad tracks.
The FRA also awarded $15.7 million to the RCE for planning activities as well as an additional $33.1 million for future project development and design.
Rail crossings could use a safety makeover
Rail track crossings typically aren’t a top safety item on people’s lists, however the risks are very much real.
Aside from the public’s inconvenience of waiting hours at intersections, accidents involving trains at crossings are also a lot more common than one may imagine.
Last year, there were more than 2,000 road and rail crossing collisions in the U.S. and more than 30,000 reports of blocked crossings submitted to the FRA’s public complaint portal.
“Every year, commuters, residents, and first responders lose valuable time waiting at blocked railroad crossings—and worse, those crossings are too often the site of collisions that could be prevented,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
As a result, RCE projects are focused on developing better infrastructure at crossings for railroads and communities to coexist more safely.
For the full list of projects and states involved in this year’s RCE program funding, refer here.
Over each of the next four years, additional RCE program funding will be made available annually. While only 32 states were included this year, all 50 states as well as U.S. territories are eligible to apply.
Other grant programs and their respective projects have yet to be announced this year. These other programs are focused on varying areas across rail, including freight rail efficiency, supply chain development, and network expansion of passenger rail.
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