U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) have introduced bipartisan legislation to create a grant program for highway-rail grade crossing separation and other track relocation projects.
The legislation (download below) would provide $500 million annually, from 2022-2026, to help state, local and Tribal governments plan and construct projects that would “improve safety or reduce congestion.”
“While rail is consistently rated one of the safest modes of transportation, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, highway-rail grade crossings are the second-leading cause of rail-related fatalities,” according to the announcement from Sen. Cantwell, who is also Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
Rail industry leaders voiced their support of the legislation:
• Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ian Jefferies said: “Railroads strongly support this common-sense solution to increase safety, reduce emissions and enhance transportation. AAR looks forward to working with Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Blunt to advance this much-needed program, which will dramatically benefit the communities in which our members serve and improve the mobility of people and goods.”
• American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association President Chuck Baker said: “We welcome Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Blunt’s introduction of the Railroad Crossing Elimination Act. While short line railroads strive to work closely with our communities and customers to avoid causing any unwelcome impacts, there are many opportunities throughout the country to eliminate highway-rail grade crossings to improve the mobility of people and goods, and improve the health and safety of communities. If passed, this legislation will help provide funds to our government and Tribal partners to allow them to work with us to close, relocate or improve many challenging crossings, and we look forward to doing so whenever and wherever possible.”