Level crossing safety improvements across Illinois given the go ahead
Posted: 30 March 2022 | Elliot Robinson (Editorial Assistant - Global Railway Review) | No comments yet
The Illinois Commerce Commission is expected to spend $386 million over a five-year period to pay for improvements at almost 880 level crossing locations.
The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has approved its annual five-year Crossing Safety Improvement Programme to start implementing highway-rail safety capital projects for local roads across the state. For Fiscal Years 2023-2027, the ICC is expected to spend $386 million from the Grade Crossing Protection Fund (GCPF) to assist local communities and railroads pay for much-needed improvements at almost 880 crossing locations. The Plan includes Rebuild Illinois (RBI) capital programme funds for the installation of grade crossing protection or grade separations not limited to local routes or other restrictions.
“With Illinois’ status as the transportation hub of the nation, ensuring our infrastructure is as safe as it is strong is my top priority,” JB Pritzker, Governor of Illinois, said. “Our Rebuild Illinois plan is an investment in a safer Illinois, including at and around the rail crossings that crisscross our state. I’m proud to help municipalities protect bicyclists, commuters, and pedestrians on our local roads.”
“The projects included in this plan are reflective of the ICC’s priorities to address crossings with a high collision history,” Carrie Zalewski, Chairman of the ICC, said. “They will improve pedestrian access at public highway rail locations and upgrade remote monitoring and automatic warning devices to improve safety and assist with the flow of people and goods on our railways and highways.”
Projects identified in the multi-year Crossing Safety Improvement Plan are prioritised based upon several criteria, including the relative safety of the existing crossing, volume and types of existing train and highway traffic. After each potential project is prioritised based on engineering requirements, geographic location is also considered to ensure projects are awarded across the state as equitably as possible. The ICC’s transportation division is responsible for developing and working with local communities and railroads to implement the Plan.
Among the projects included are grade separation projects in various communities across Illinois to keep pedestrians, bicyclists, and commuters away and safe from railroad tracks. It also continues to invest in major multi-year projects that will improve overall safety and public convenience in communities like Springfield and Elmwood Park and provides for construction of new bridges in high growth areas like Will County. In addition, the Plan furthers the ICC’s ongoing commitment to expand the use of advanced remote monitoring systems to better promote track safety and upgrade active warning devices and corridors in rural and urban communities across Illinois.
In 2021, preliminary statistics indicate there were 104 collisions at public highway-rail crossings in Illinois, compared to 83 in 2020, a 25.3 percent increase. In 2021, 28.8 per cent of all collisions involved cars driving into the sides of trains. Total fatalities resulting from collisions at highway-rail crossings in Illinois increased from 16 in 2020 to 22 in 2021, an increase of 37.5 per cent.