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Federal Railroad Administration Awards Nearly $10 Million to Increase Safety at Railroad Crossings Along Energy Routes

U.S. Department
of Transportation

Office of Public Affairs,
Washington D.C.

www.dot.gov/briefingroom

  • 18
  • Feb
  • 2016
PRESS RELEASE NUMBER: FRA 06-16
CONTACT: FRA Public Affairs
PHONE: 202-493-6024
KEYWORDS: Railroad Crossings, Safety
ABSTRACT: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has awarded nearly $10 million in grants for nine projects in eight states to upgrade and increase the safety of railroad crossings along energy routes.

WASHINGTON – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has awarded nearly $10 million in grants for nine projects in eight states to upgrade and increase the safety of railroad crossings along energy routes. The funding is provided under the Railroad Safety Grants for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) by Rail Program. FRA received 34 eligible applications requesting five times the $10 million available for the program, or $50.8 million.

 “These grants will reduce accidents and fatalities at railroad crossings and help modernize our nation’s rail system,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Through a combination of these grants, education and enforcement, we can – and will – achieve our goal of preventing accidents and deaths at railroad crossings.”

 Grants were awarded to state Departments of Transportation in Washington state, California, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Arkansas and Louisiana. More information and specifics on each grant are listed below.

 “One of FRA’s top priorities during the last year has been to reverse the uptick in fatalities at railroad crossings because most of these collisions and deaths are preventable,” FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg said. “Today’s grants will upgrade the warning systems at critical crossings and close others where crude oil and other energy products are transported.”

 Last year, FRA launched a new, comprehensive campaign to reverse the recent uptick in railroad crossing fatalities. The campaign includes partnering with Google and other tech companies to use FRA data that pinpoints the country’s 200,000 railroad crossings to add visual and audio alerts to map applications. FRA has also worked with local law enforcement to increase enforcement around railroad crossings. Collisions between trains and vehicles at railroad crossings are the second-leading cause of all railroad-related fatalities. In 2014, 264 individuals died in these collisions.

 FRA awarded grants to the following states: 

  • Arkansas Department of Transportation 

    • North End Avenue in Paragould, Arkansas: $292,000 to install flashing lights and crossing gates at the crossing that currently just has cross bucks. 

    • Greene County Road 818 northeast of Paragould, Arkansas: $190,000 to install flashing lights and crossing gates at the crossing that currently just has cross bucks. 

  • California Department of Transportation 

    • Rice Avenue in Oxnard, California: $1.5 million to complete design work to separate Rice Avenue from the railroad tracks. The California Department of Transportation will design a six-lane bridge that will include sidewalks and bike lanes on Rice Avenue over the Union Pacific tracks and State Route 34. Annually, train traffic through this area includes 1,820 Metrolink commuter trains, 3,120 Amtrak intercity trains, and 4,368 Union Pacific trains. Additionally, Rice Avenue is a primary truck route to the Port of Hueneme with an average of 35,000 vehicles daily. 

  • Illinois Department of Transportation 

    • 95th Street at Eggleston Avenue in Chicago: $1.25 million to fund the preliminary design and engineering costs for an overpass to separate Union Pacific’s double-track main line, from motor vehicle traffic at the intersection of 95th street and Eggleston Avenue in Chicago. The tracks cross a major Chicago intersection serving 24,000 vehicles and 700 transit buses with 18,000 passengers daily. There are more than 26,000 people who live within one square mile of the project location. Additionally, an estimated 46 percent of all containerized freight in the U.S. passes through Chicago with 24 freight and two Amtrak trains daily passing through the project area. 

  • Louisiana Department of Transportation

    • Six miles from North Street to Louise Street in Baton Rouge, Louisiana: $1.1 million to upgrade nine crossings with gates and lights and close six crossings. Since 2000, there have been 11 accidents that have resulted in four injuries along this corridor in Baton Rouge. An average of eight trains travel along this route each day. In 2014, Louisiana ranked in the top five states for fatalities at railroad crossings with 13 fatalities. 

  • Minnesota Department of Transportation 

    • Humboldt Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota: $716,000 to upgrade the 37-year-old signal system and add medians at the Humboldt Avenue Crossing. The upgraded signal system will reduce false alarms and the risk of inadequate signal timing. Medians will be installed to prevent drivers from driving across tracks around the gate arms, thus eliminating the risk of deadly collisions. Four Class I railroads converge at the Humboldt Yard. 

  • North Dakota Department of Transportation 

    • $1.03 million to improve seven crossings with lights and gates and close one crossing.
      These crossings currently only have cross bucks and will be upgraded with lights and gates:

      • 138th Ave NW, City of Williston, North Dakota - DOT 081542F

      • 117th Ave NW, Wheelock, North Dakota - DOT 093368H

      • 126th Ave NW, Epping North Dakota - DOT 093378N

      • 86th Ave NW, Ross, North Dakota - DOT 093315J

      • Grand Forks CR 16 Niagara, North Dakota - DOT 086580G

      • Grand Forks CR 20 West of Larimore, North Dakota - DOT 086884X 

Currently has lights and gates and will receive new lights and a signal system:

      • 79th Ave NE Ramsey County CMC 3628 NW of Devils Lake, North Dakota - DOT 102629H 

Crossing will be closed:

      • 61st Street NW, Wheelock, North Dakota - DOT 093370J 

  • Washington State Department of Transportation 

    • Near Vancouver, Washington: $900,000 for the Ridgefield Rail Overpass Project. The project will close the Mill Street and Division Street crossings, build a 500-foot bridge overpass, and construct 1,000 feet of new road and finance signal work. More than 50 passenger and freight trains pass through the area each day. Completion of the project will enhance safety and improve reliability for freight and Amtrak passenger services. 

  • Wisconsin Department of Transportation 

    • Waukesha County: $3 million to improve 10 crossings and create one pedestrian crossing as part of the Waukesha County Sealed Corridor Project along 10 miles of Canadian Pacific’s mainline. An average of 23 trains travel along this corridor each day. Since 2005, there have been four collisions that have resulted in one injury and two fatalities. The following crossings will be upgraded:

      • Vettelson Road, Crossing Number 390540U, City of Delafield

        • Currently has lights and gates, will receive upgrades to create a four-quadrant system.

      • Cottonwood Avenue, Crossing Number 390538T, Village of Hartland

        • Currently has lights and gates, will receive new signal system with shortened counterweight on the backend of gates due to nearby sidewalk.

      • Maple Avenue (CTH E), Crossing Number 390537L, Village of Hartland

        • Currently has lights and gates, will receive new signal system, shortened counterweight on the backend of gates, and relocation of sidewalk.

      • North Shore Drive, Crossing Number 390 535X, Town of Delafield

        • Currently has lights and gates, will receive upgrades to create a four-quadrant system.

      • Parkside Lane, Crossing Number 390 534R, City of Pewaukee

        • Currently has lights and gates, will receive upgrades to create a four-quadrant system and replace the road surface over the tracks.

      • Kopmeier Drive, Crossing Number 390533J, Village of Pewaukee

        • Currently has lights and gates, will receive upgrades to create a four-quadrant system and replace the road surface over the tracks.

      • Wisconsin Avenue, Crossing Number 390 532C , Village of Pewaukee

        • Currently has lights and gates, will receive a four-foot median to prevent drivers from going around gates and new signal system for a three-quadrant gate system.

      • Oakton Avenue, Crossing Number 390 530N, Village of Pewaukee

        • Currently has lights and gates, will receive upgrades to create a four-quadrant system.

      • Forest Grove Drive, Crossing Number 390 031X, Village of Pewaukee

        • Currently has lights and gates, will receive new median to prevent drivers from driving around gates and new signal system.

      • Duplainville Road, Crossing Number 390 524K, City of Pewaukee

        • Currently has lights and gates, will receive a four-quadrant system.

      • Clark Street Pedestrian Crossing, Village of Pewaukee

        • Pedestrians have created a well-worn path. Grant will be used to install a pedestrian crossing, crossing signs. 

In addition to railroad crossing initiatives, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has taken more than three dozen actions to increase the safety of energy products transported by rail in the last two years. In 2015, DOT released its comprehensive rule that raises the bar on the safety of transporting crude oil by rail. The rule requires stronger tank cars and a new brake system that activates simultaneously on all tank cars, reduces the distance and time needed for a train to stop, and keeps more tank cars on the track if a train does derail. DOT has also required that railroads transporting crude oil notify State Emergency Response Commissions of the movement of crude oil through individual states.

 

 

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