ICC Approves Five-Year Crossing Safety Improvement Plan

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
image description

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) recently approved its annual five-year Crossing Safety Improvement Program (FY 2024-2029) to “implement life-saving upgrades at highway-rail crossings across Illinois.”

According to ICC, more than $40 million from the Grade Crossing Protection Fund (GCPF) and Rebuild Illinois (RBI) will help local communities and railroads pay for much-needed safety improvements at 1,310 crossing locations.

“Illinois is one of America’s largest rail transportation hubs, but there’s an inherent risk of crashes where highways and railroad tracks intersect. Greenlighting the use of the Grade Crossing Protection Fund is essential for keeping pedestrians and motorists safe at Illinois crossings,” said ICC Chairman Doug Scott.

In 2023, ICC says that preliminary statistics indicate there were 90 collisions at public-highway-rail crossings in Illinois, compared to 123 in 2022, a 26.8% decrease. Total fatalities resulting from collisions at highway-rail crossings in Illinois decreased from 28 in 2022 to 18 in 2023, a decrease of 35.7%.

State funding from the GCPF and RBI, paired with federal funds, provide Illinois communities the ability to address longstanding safety concerns and higher project costs, ICC stated in a release. The five-year plan (download below) proposes GCPF dollars help cover 22 highway-rail bridge projects, six pedestrian-rail bridge projects, 1,261 grade crossing improvement projects, and 11 low-cost emergency or experimental improvements at more than 1,300 crossing locations. Among the projects are upgrades to lighting, gates, and automatic warning devices, including remote monitors, grade separation construction and reconstruction, installation of pedestrian gates, and the separation of pedestrian crossings from rail tracks. This funding, ICC says, also helps the state to meet the continued demand for roadway and pedestrian bridges and upgraded warning devices.

“Dollars from the Grade Crossing Protection Fund will help railroads and communities across Illinois offset the cost of infrastructure upgrades required to keep the public safe. The ICC’s Crossing Safety Improvement Plan has a critical role to play in bringing these projects to fruition,” said ICC Commissioner Michael T. Carrigan.

The ICC says it prioritizes projects based on several factors, including safety of the existing crossing, collision history, traffic volume, engineering requirements, and geographical location. The ICC also promotes “The Three E’s” of railroad safety: Education through Operation Lifesaver Illinois; Enforcement of existing laws to ensure motorists and pedestrians obey all railroad safety laws; and the Engineering necessary to make crossings as physically and operationally safe as possible.

The full list of CSIP projects is available here. Information on past programs and crossing inventory, as well as an interactive map of projects included in the current five-year plan, is available here.

Tags: , , , , ,