On the heels of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) hosting a grade-crossing safety summit, the agency announced publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to improve safety at public highway-rail grade crossings nationwide.
The proposed rule would require all states and the District of Columbia to develop and implement a new or updated highway-rail grade crossing action plan no later than one year after the effective date of the final rule. The NPRM can be found in its entirety here.
FRA said it “will review states’ action plans for sufficiency and, upon approval, it will publish the plans on the internet. These action plans aim to enable states to prioritize infrastructure and equipment investments at railway crossings using a variety of resources, including Federal formula funds and grants.”
Since 2017, “the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has distributed more than $900 million in formula funds to States for grade crossing improvements through the Section 130 program,” FRA noted. “Additionally, FHWA has awarded $324 million in discretionary grant funds to 43 projects that include grade crossing improvements and trespass prevention elements, with more than 500 grade crossings in 26 states to be improved as a result of these investments.”
FRA also announced that the Highway-Rail Crossing Handbook has been updated and revamped for the first time in more than 10 years. “This offers guidance for best practices and new standards to improve safety at the nation’s 130,000 public rail and road junctures,” FRA said.
In addition, FRA conducted the 4th annual railroad crossing safety campaign, Stop. Trains Can’t, “which aims to increase public awareness of railroad crossings and to reduce injuries and death.” The campaign focused on cities that have had the highest vehicle/train incidents in the past 10 years.
“Grade crossing collisions are the second leading cause of rail-related deaths in America, but nearly every one of them is preventable,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “The action plans provide states a tool to engage with federal and local partners, railroads, and rail safety advocates to identify high-risk crossings and develop strategies to save lives.”
“The handbook is one more tool in the toolbox to help enhance safety at highway-rail grade crossings,” said Federal Highway Administrator Nicole R. Nason. “It is part of our ongoing efforts, in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration and state and local practitioners, to help ensure rail and road users get to their destination safely.”