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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government


Federal Railroad Administration
April 20, 1999

Tuesday, April 20, 1999
Contact: Pamela Barry
Telephone: 202-493-6024
FRA 6-99

LAREDO, Texas—Federal Railroad Administrator Jolene Molitoris joined City of Laredo Mayor Elizabeth G. Flores today to discuss highway-rail grade crossing safety.

"Record levels of investment are bringing about improved rail safety, demonstrating President Clinton’s leadership and emphasis on safety as the highest transportation priority," U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater said. "We need to do more by continuing to work with state and local officials to increase state and local investment and enforcement on grade crossings."

In fiscal 1999, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) provided $154.8 million to states to be used exclusively for highway-rail crossing improvements or elimination. An additional $314.8 million of funding for hazard elimination also may be used for eliminating or improving grade crossings. As part of TEA-21, Texas received $10.9 million in fiscal 1999 for highway-rail crossing improvements. In addition, $31.5 million in hazard elimination funds can be used to eliminate grade crossing hazards.

"We are conducting a series of community meetings around the country to raise awareness about the dangers of highway-rail crossings and discuss the tools available to assist Americans in reducing the risks at these crossings," Molitoris said.

"These kinds of meetings are important because they bring everyone to the table to discuss how we can become better equipped to deal with these highway-rail crossings. We live in a commuity dissected by railroads, and they are part of our everyday lives, so it’s very important to recognize the dangers that these highway-rail crossings represent," Mayor Flores said. "But recognizing their danger isn’t enough–we must try every means to put the appropriate measures in place to ensure safety for the thousands of motorists who drive across them every day."

There are more than 259,000 existing highway-rail grade crossings in the United States. States and localities, working with DOT, have closed more than 33,000 such grade crossings since 1991. Texas has closed more than 2,000.

Five years ago, the DOT launched a multi-faceted initiative to save lives at highway-rail grade crossings. Since 1993, there have been dramatic results -- almost 29 percent fewer highway-rail crossing collisions, 32 percent fewer highway-rail crossing fatalities and 30 percent fewer highway-rail crossing injuries.


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