Safety

Federal funding requests have been submitted for planning the return of Amtrak service between Louisville, Ky., and Indianapolis, Ind.

Transit Briefs: Amtrak, Bi-State Development, Metra, Metrolinx, Sound Transit

Will Amtrak service connecting Louisville, Indianapolis and Chicago return? Also, Bi-State Development advances the Jefferson Alignment MetroLink Expansion project in St. Louis, Mo.; Chicago’s Metra schedules Operation Lifesaver safety blitzes for 2023; Metrolinx installs traction power substations along Ontario’s future Hazel McCallion Line (formerly known as the Hurontario LRT project); and Seattle’s Sound Transit will receive millions in low-interest loans to support construction of the Hilltop Tacoma Link extension and a station along the Lynnwood Link extension.

CABT photo

CABT Study: ‘Our Bridges Can’t Handle Bigger Trucks’

A new study released by the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT) shows that more than 72,000 bridges nationwide cannot safely handle the heavier truck weights that special interests are lobbying federal legislation to put onto the roads, and that replacing these bridges would cost taxpayers more than $600 billion.

MBTA photo

Transit Briefs: MBTA, LA Metro, NYMTA

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) announces Safety First program for South Coast Rail (SCR). Also, LA Metro approves hiring of Transit Security Officers, law enforcement contract negotiations and policies to improve safety for rail and bus riders; and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will receive $2 million in federal funds to expand a program that helps visually impaired riders, as well as commuters with limited English proficiency, navigate public transit.

Sound Transit’s proposed 7.1-mile extension from downtown Seattle to Ballard includes nine new stations between the Chinatown-International District and Market Street and a new rail-only tunnel through downtown Seattle.

Transit Briefs: Sound Transit, WMATA

Seattle’s Sound Transit identifies the preferred alternative for the Ballard Link light rail extension and will conduct Rainier Valley safety improvements in partnership with the city’s transportation department using a $2 million Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). Also, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) police department launches a Body-Worn Camera Program.

PHMSA Issues DOT-111 Tank Car Safety Advisory

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), on March 22 released a safety advisory, which it said was to “re-emphasize previously raised concerns about the survivability of DOT-111 tank cars and encourage tank car owners and shippers of flammable liquids to voluntarily upgrade their tank car fleets to the newest, and safest, available tank car design authorized for flammable liquid service—the DOT-117 specification tank car.”

FRA Issues SNPRM for Emergency Escape Breathing Apparatus Standards

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on March 22 released a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM) to expand occupational noise exposure regulations and require railroads to provide locomotive crews with appropriate “atmosphere-supplying emergency escape breathing apparatuses” when their trains transport hazardous material.

Amtrak’s Adirondack service between New York City and Montreal will resume April 3. It had been suspended for three years due to the pandemic.

Transit Briefs: Amtrak, CATS, MBTA, Metrolinx, NYCT, TransLink

Amtrak, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and VIA Rail Canada are fully restoring Adirondack service. Also, a Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) derailment report raises light rail vehicle safety concerns; Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) lifts Green Line speed restrictions; Metrolinx, the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area transit authority, launches the #GOTransitReads by Legible Book Club; MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) logs more “Station Re-NEW-vation Program” work; and the government of British Columbia provides C$479 million in emergency funding for metro Vancouver’s TransLink.

Sumner County Tennessee Emergency Communications Training Officer Brooke Elkins learns about AskRail. (Caption and Photograph Courtesy of AAR)

Railroads Expanding Access to AskRail

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has teamed with the Sumner County, Tenn., emergency management agencies on a pilot project that adds AskRail data to their dispatching system. AskRail’s railcar contents information and emergency response guides will help to “ensure all first responders have accurate, timely information in the event of a rail emergency,” AAR reported March 20.

“We need to make sure our first responders are ready to respond to emergencies involving pipelines and hazardous materials,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

PHMSA: More Than $25MM to Improve Hazmat and Pipeline Safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced March 20 more than $25 million available in grant funding through its pipeline and hazardous materials (hazmat) safety programs for projects that will “train first responders, strengthen safety programs, improve safety, reduce environmental impacts, and educate the public on local safety initiatives.”