$40m in grants awarded to improve road-rail crossing safety in five States
The grants will help commuter rail authorities in California, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington eliminate hazards at highway-railway crossings.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has announced $40 million of grants will go to the States of California, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington to improve safety where highways and rail lines cross. The grants are awarded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2020, appropriated $50 million in Commuter Authority Rail Safety Improvement (CARSI) Grants Program funding to be awarded by FHWA for highway-railway crossing-related projects, including 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.
By statute, an eligible commuter authority must have experienced at least one accident investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2018, and for which the NTSB issued an accident report. From 2010 to 2019, there was an increase in the number of incidents and fatalities at highway-railway crossings across the country. Over this 10-year period, the overall number of incidents and fatalities increased by 6.3 per cent and 10.1 per cent respectively, while the overall number of injuries declined by 10.5 per cent.
Federal Railroad Administrator, Ronald Batory, said: “Separation or protection of grades at crossings will not only improve and ensure the safety of rail passengers, pedestrians and motorists, but will also keep rail moving on time.”
The CARSI Round One grant selections include:
California – grant amount $14,771,250
The Southern California Regional Rail Authority, operator of Metrolink, the agency’s busiest commuter rail line, will improve safety at Tyler Avenue and at Cogswell Road in the city of El Monte in Los Angeles County by bringing at-grade highway-rail crossings up to current standards and adding pedestrian gates and right-of-way fencing.
Massachusetts – grant amount $1,000,000
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will relocate and reconstruct an existing transit station platform along a single track to eliminate delays at the station located on State Route 92 (Middlesex Avenue) in the town of Wilmington.
New York – grant amount $19,728,000
The New York State Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Metro North Railroad (MNR) will improve safety at nine crossings along the MNR Harlem Line in Winchester, Dutchess and Putnam Counties by upgrading or replacing existing at-grade crossing warning systems and reconstructing railroad crossing structures and approaches currently in place.
Pennsylvania – grant amount $3,335,000
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Regional Rail Grade Crossing Safety Enhancements Program will install new gate systems at three crossings and pavement markings at 20 crossing locations in Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.
Washington – grant amount $1,421,500
The Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority will install new crossing gate arms, pedestrian signals, elevated concrete pedestrian pads and detectable warning devices and improve flashing-light signals at 7th Street Northwest and 5th Street Northwest in Puyallup.
The FHWA 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.
Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Metro North Railroad (MNR), Metrolink, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), New York State Department of Transportation, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)