Legislators Reintroduce Grade Crossing Safety Grant Bill

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) have reintroduced a bill authorizing $250 million annually for highway/rail grade crossing safety projects.

The Warren Cowles Grade Crossing Safety Act (download below) would amend CRISI (Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program) grants within the FAST Act, providing project funding for “commuter rail and operators in high-ridership corridors.” Projects could include the installation of grade separations, or crossing signals, gates, lights, and other barriers or cautionary signage.

The legislation is named in honor of Warren P. Cowles, who died in 2017 at a crossing collision involving Amtrak in Longmeadow, Mass.

U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.)

“I am proud to have helped the residents of Longmeadow address the safety issues at their particular crossing, but we must do more to honor Warren’s memory,” Sen. Markey said. “That’s why we’re reintroducing our legislation and will fight for its inclusion in any infrastructure package that passes Congress in the weeks ahead. We must increase grade crossing safety across the country and make sure we are preventing these accidents everywhere we can.”

“On behalf of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), I want to thank Sen. Markey and Representative Neal for their leadership in tackling the critical issue of grade-crossing safety for commuter rail and other operators in high-ridership rail corridors,” said Paul P. Skoutelas, President and CEO of APTA. “Our commuter railroads have been working hard to mitigate these highway-rail grade-crossing incidents, often involving unlawful entry to the railroad’s right of way. These projects can be expensive to construct and establishing a specific source of funding for passenger rail grade-crossing safety will help our commuter railroads combat this critical safety issue.”

“This bill will improve safety for train passengers, for drivers, and for pedestrians in the communities served by rail lines,” Rail Passengers Association President Jim Mathews said. “Not only will it make existing train service safer, [but] by upgrading highway-rail grade crossings it will make America’s intercity and commuter rail systems more efficient and increase capacity.”

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