The Biden administration is awarding $570 million in subsidies to assist in the elimination of numerous railroad crossings in 32 states as the rail industry increasingly relies on longer trains to reduce expenses. The subsidies announced on Monday will help construct bridges or underpasses at the locations of more than thirty crossings that cause traffic delays and occasionally prevent first responders from getting to areas where help is urgently needed.
In other locations, trains that are frequently longer than 2 miles (3.2 km) can block crossings for hours, preventing people from getting to certain parts of towns and forcing them to attempt the risky act of climbing through trains that could suddenly start moving. “We witness countless instances of people being late for work and goods being blocked.” Seeing pictures of kids having to crawl between or under freight trains in order to get to school, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated, “It prevents people from getting where they need to be and delays first responders,”
In one instance Buttigieg cited, a Texas mother called 911 to report that her 3-month-old baby was in trouble, but an idle train delayed the ambulance’s arrival, and the child died two days later at the hospital. Approximately 2,000 collisions at railroad crossings are reported annually, in addition to issues with obstructed crossings. Last year, those car-train collisions resulted in close to 250 fatalities. Buttigieg mentioned one situation in which a woman from California ended up
after traffic backed up, she was killed when a train rammed into her car as it was parked on the tracks. In an effort to save costs, the main freight railways have recently changed how they operate, relying on fewer, longer trains that require fewer workers and engines. Although regulators and Congress are closely examining the railroads’ operations in the wake of three recent high-profile derailments, the railroads maintain that the improvements haven’t made their trains any riskier. Additionally, the issues at train crossings are widely known.
These awards are a component of the $3 billion in funding for these rail crossing projects that was approved in the $1 trillion infrastructure law and will be distributed over the following five years. among the 63 projects that will receive funding involve just planning and design work to eventually eliminate crossings, but the majority of the funding will be used to make actual upgrades to crossings and solve persistent issues. Buttigieg has announced that he will travel to Grand Forks, North Dakota, on Monday to highlight a $30 million award that is funding a project that will increase hospital access close to the University of North Dakota campus. Houston has the second-highest number of rail crossing fatalities in the country, and a grant worth roughly $37 million will help remove four of them. The four new underpasses that will be constructed will increase pedestrian security and lessen automobile congestion.
An access improvement grant of $7.2 million will benefit the Iron District in Fostoria, Ohio. Triangle because train tracks encircle it on three sides. The town is traversed by a CSX train approximately every 26 minutes, and warning sirens at the crossings sound for at least two hours each day. To create a secure entrance to the neighborhood, a new bridge will be constructed over the railroad tracks on one side of the community. States and localities are required to pay at least 20% of the project costs in each of these grants, perhaps with assistance from the railroads.
News on SNBC13.com