Topics: Rodney E. Slater
Federal Railroad Administration
April 6, 1998
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 6, 1998
Contacts: David Bolger, (202) 632-3124
Carrie Hyun, (202) 366-5565
As part of President Clinton’s commitment to developing high-speed passenger rail service and improving safety at highway-rail grade crossings, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater today announced the award of grants totaling $2.28 million to the State of North Carolina for the "Sealed Corridor Initiative," a program to improve grade crossing safety along the State’s designated high-speed rail corridor.
"Safety is President Clinton’s highest transportation priority," said Secretary Slater, "This grant will improve safety on the Raleigh to Charlotte corridor by reducing the risk of collisions at grade crossings."
Highway-rail crossing consolidation and elimination is a key component of the Department of Transportation’s Highway-Rail Safety Action Plan. As part of the plan, the department is working with railroads and communities to reduce the number of crossings nationwide by 25 percent. If a crossing cannot be eliminated, techniques demonstrated in the Sealed Corridor can eliminate most vehicle crossing violations and greatly reduce the potential for collisions. For example, the use of four-quadrant gates plus median barriers was shown to reduce violations from 43 per week at Sugar Creek Road in Charlotte to one per week.
The Department of Transportation has already awarded over $5 million to conduct a demonstration of median barriers and four-quadrant gates, and has installed equipment to prevent highway-rail crossing collisions between motor vehicles and trains by closing redundant crossings and upgrading warning devices along North Carolina’s high speed-rail corridor between Charlotte and Raleigh. Other elements of the initiative include traffic separation studies to consolidate crossings, the use of long arm gates and articulated gate arms, video enforcement, video monitoring and data collection, studies of driver behavior and an analysis of the demographics of violators, and innovative warning devices and use of improved signs at private crossings.
The Charlotte to Raleigh corridor was designated as one of five prospective high-speed corridors under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), making it eligible to compete for $30 million of funding from the Highway Trust Fund for the elimination of hazards at highway crossings.
This federal grant supports the corridor initiative and will be supplemented with state funding and in-kind support from Norfolk Southern, which has cooperated closely with North Carolina DOT in implementing this initiative.