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August 25, 2020 1:00 PM, EDT

DOT Announces Funding Availability for Rail Crossing Projects

Truck at rail crossingKansas Department of Transportation

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has made available $50 million in grant funding to commuter rail agencies that are conducting projects to improve safety at railway-highway crossings.

DOT published the Notice of Funding Opportunity for the grants Aug. 25.

Funding will be awarded by the Federal Highway Administration through the Commuter Authority Rail Safety Improvement (CARSI) Grants Program.

Through the CARSI program, FHWA coordinates with the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Transit Administration to award competitive grants to commuter rail authorities working to eliminate hazards at crossing points between railways and highways.

“Safety is always our top priority at the department under the leadership of [Transportation] Secretary [Elaine] Chao,” said Federal Highway Administrator Nicole Nason. “These grants will help our state, local and regional transportation partners better protect the lives of those traveling on America’s roads and rails.”

Eligible projects may include those that separate or protect grades at crossings, rebuild railroad grade crossing structures, shift highways to eliminate grade crossings and eliminate hazards associated with grade crossings that are blocked due to idling trains.

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FRA reports that 94% of all rail-related fatalities and injuries occur at railroad crossings or are the result of trespassing. More than 400 rail-related fatalities due to trespassing occur each year.

“FRA is always working toward a benchmark of zero fatalities at railway crossings, and such safety improvements to our nation’s infrastructure will go a long way toward that goal,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Ronald Batory.

Applications may be submitted to DOT until Oct. 26.

To be eligible for a grant, a commuter authority must have experienced at least one accident that has been investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2018, and was issued a corresponding NTSB accident report. Applicants are also encouraged to partner with their state departments of transportation.

“Working together with FHWA and FRA, we can improve safety around highway-rail crossings and prevent collisions, injuries and fatalities,” said FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams. “Rail safety includes encouraging safe behavior around all rail crossings; it’s about making sure the American public is safe near all rail tracks.”

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