Dozens of dangerous rail crossings will be eliminated with $570 million in grants

The grants announced Monday will contribute to building bridges or underpasses at the sites of more than three dozen crossings that delay traffic and sometimes keep first responders from where help is desperately needed.

Associated Press

Jun 5, 2023, 12:45 PM

Updated 373 days ago

Share:

With the rail industry relying on longer and longer trains to cut costs, the Biden administration is handing out $570 million in grants to help eliminate many railroad crossings in 32 states.
The grants announced Monday will contribute to building bridges or underpasses at the sites of more than three dozen crossings that delay traffic and sometimes keep first responders from where help is desperately needed.
In some places, trains routinely stretching more than 2 miles (3.2 km) long can block crossings for hours, cutting off access to parts of towns and forcing pedestrians to attempt the dangerous act of climbing through trains that could start moving without warning.
“We see countless stories of people unable to get to work on time, goods being blocked from getting where they need to be and first responders being delayed by these these trains that can be slowed or stopped — even seeing images of children having to crawl between or under freight trains in order to get to school,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.
In one case Buttigieg mentioned, a Texas mom called 911 because her 3-month-old baby was in distress, but an idle train kept the ambulance from getting there quickly and the baby died at the hospital two days later.
In addition to problems associated with blocked crossings, roughly 2,000 collisions are reported at railroad crossings every year. Nearly 250 deaths were recorded last year in those car-train crashes. In one instance Buttigieg cited, a woman in California wound up stopped on the tracks after traffic backed up and she was killed when a train slammed into her vehicle.
In recent years, the major freight railroads have overhauled their operations to rely on fewer, longer trains so they can use fewer crews and locomotives as part of efforts to cut costs.
The railroads insist those changes haven't made their trains riskier, but regulators and Congress are scrutinizing their operations closely after several recent high-profile derailments. And the problems at rail crossings are well documented.
These grants are part of $3 billion in funding approved in the $1 trillion infrastructure law for these rail crossing projects that will be doled out over the next five years.
A number of the 63 projects that will receive grants involve only planning and design work for eliminating crossings in the future, but most of the money will go toward physical improvements at crossings and eliminating longstanding problems.
Buttigieg said he plans to visit Grand Forks, North Dakota, Monday to highlight a $30 million grant helping to pay for a project near the University of North Dakota campus that will improve access to the local hospital.
A grant worth nearly $37 million will help eliminate four rail crossings in Houston, which has the second-highest number of rail crossing deaths in the nation. The four new underpasses to be built will reduce traffic delays and improve pedestrian safety.
One $7.2 million grant will help improve access to an area of Fostoria, Ohio, known as the Iron Triangle because it is bordered on three sides by train tracks. A CSX train passes through the community about once every 26 minutes, with warning sirens at the crossings sounding for at least two hours daily. A new bridge will be built over the tracks on one side of the neighborhood to provide a safe route into the area.
In each of these grants, states and cities — sometimes with the help of the railroads — must cover at least 20% of the project cost.


More from News 12
Mayor: 2 people shot in West Carteret near Minue School

Mayor: 2 people shot in West Carteret near Minue School

2:09
Sunny and seasonable today in New Jersey; tracking strong to severe storm chances for Friday

Sunny and seasonable today in New Jersey; tracking strong to severe storm chances for Friday

2:12
NJ Transit, Amtrak lay out service disruption initiative following system failures in May

NJ Transit, Amtrak lay out service disruption initiative following system failures in May

0:28
‘Operation Cruel Summer’ nets 4 arrests in Middlesex County

‘Operation Cruel Summer’ nets 4 arrests in Middlesex County

0:32
Attorney general: On-duty Franklin Borough police sergeant involved in crash that killed 19-year-old

Attorney general: On-duty Franklin Borough police sergeant involved in crash that killed 19-year-old

2:19
Waldwick's boil water advisory remains in effect Wednesday due to nearly 2-day water main break

Waldwick's boil water advisory remains in effect Wednesday due to nearly 2-day water main break

0:29
Sussex County school bus driver gets 14 years in prison for driving students around while drunk

Sussex County school bus driver gets 14 years in prison for driving students around while drunk

Aldi warns customers of data breach involving skimming devices; 2 NJ stores effected

Aldi warns customers of data breach involving skimming devices; 2 NJ stores effected

0:17
Middlesex police: Construction worker killed after being hit by metal beam

Middlesex police: Construction worker killed after being hit by metal beam

0:19
Ridgefield man accused of strangling a child before attempting sexual assault

Ridgefield man accused of strangling a child before attempting sexual assault

1:58
USA, fresh off huge upset win, plays India in last Nassau Cricket World Cup match

USA, fresh off huge upset win, plays India in last Nassau Cricket World Cup match

1:35
What's Cooking: Uncle Giuseppe's Marketplace's lemon iced almond biscotti

What's Cooking: Uncle Giuseppe's Marketplace's lemon iced almond biscotti

2:11
Somerset County volunteer fire department at odds over new terms made by Board of Fire Commissioners

Somerset County volunteer fire department at odds over new terms made by Board of Fire Commissioners

0:42
Jersey Proud: Founding member of Chatham Boy Scout troop earns her Eagle Scout rank

Jersey Proud: Founding member of Chatham Boy Scout troop earns her Eagle Scout rank

2:30
Business owners: Closure of Route 15 bridge in Jefferson Township is impacting profits

Business owners: Closure of Route 15 bridge in Jefferson Township is impacting profits

0:24
Police: 4 thieves break into luxury clothing store in Roxbury Township

Police: 4 thieves break into luxury clothing store in Roxbury Township

1:53
$221 million Powerball jackpot ticket sold in South Jersey

$221 million Powerball jackpot ticket sold in South Jersey

21:13
Kane In Your Corner: Victims of the System

Kane In Your Corner: Victims of the System

0:32
Newark police search for man who struck victim in head with glass bottle

Newark police search for man who struck victim in head with glass bottle

2:48
Looking for the perfect Father’s Day gift? News 12 has you covered

Looking for the perfect Father’s Day gift? News 12 has you covered