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U.S. Transportation Secretary Announces Funding For Grade Crossing Hazard Elimination Programs In Designated High-Speed Corridors

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American Government Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

U.S. Transportation Secretary Announces Funding For Grade Crossing Hazard Elimination Programs In Designated High-Speed Corridors

Federal Railroad Administration
July 23, 1999

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 23, 1999
Contacts: FRA, Pamela Barry, 202-493-6024
FHWA, Virginia Miller, 202-366-0660
FRA 17-99

U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced financial assistance grants totaling $6.95 million to eight federally-designated high-speed rail corridors to eliminate hazards at public and private highway-rail grade crossings.

"President Clinton and Vice President Gore launched a comprehensive livability agenda to strengthen the federal government’s role as a partner in helping communities across America grow in ways that ensure a high quality of life and strong, sustainable economic growth," Secretary Slater said. "These grants will facilitate the coming of high-speed rail and improve safety, which is President Clinton’s highest transportation priority, by helping to remove hazards at highway-rail crossings."

All public and private highway-rail grade crossings in designated corridors are eligible for funding which may be spent on crossing closure; consolidation or grade separation; installation or upgrade of warning devices; improvements to track circuitry, crossing surfaces, crossing sight distances or illumination; installation of advanced train control or traffic control systems; and other related project development, analysis and engineering activities. The federal share of costs for improvements funded under the hazard elimination program may be up to 100 percent of the total engineering and construction costs.

Fiscal 1999 apportionments to the eight designated corridors are as follows:

The funds will be used with other federal and state grade crossing funding to accelerate the implementation of high-speed rail in designated high-speed rail corridors. A Federal Register Notice on Dec. 11, 1998 solicited applications from states, either singly or in conjunction with other states, for funding projects in the above corridors.

"The hazard elimination program is key to making high-speed rail successful in the United States," Federal Railroad Administrator Jolene M. Molitoris said. "This program also will significantly improve the safety of both rail and highway users in each corridor where improvements are being made."

"This money is important toward eliminating safety hazards and continuing the reduction of highway-rail crossing fatalities," said Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle. "We have successfully reduced highway-rail grade crossings fatalities by two-thirds since 1973 and are committed to reducing them even further."

Since the enactment of the Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing Program in 1973, highway-rail grade crossing fatalities have declined at public crossings from 1,185 in 1973 to 385 in 1998, representing a 67.5 percent decline in fatalities since the program began.

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) expanded the highway-rail grade crossing hazard elimination program originated under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). The program is managed jointly by the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Highway Administration, both agencies of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Funding for Grade Crossing Hazard Elimination

Fiscal Year 1999

Corridor State Funding Purpose
Pacific Northwest Washington $500,000 Consolidate and upgrade 12 crossings with median barriers, close two crossings and construct an overpass.
  Oregon $400,000 Close 7 private crossings by constructing an access road to link these properties to a public grade crossing. Develop a master plan for the treatment of public and private crossings between Eugene and Portland.
California   $250,000 Provide matching funds to support the City of San Juan Capistrano and Orange County to equip the last unprotected crossing on the San Diegan route with lights and gates. Conduct preliminary engineering on improvements to a particularly complex, hazardous crossing in Martinez, serving the San Joaquin and Capitol routes.
Chicago Hub Wisconsin $500,000 Upgrade four crossings between Milwaukee and Chicago with new lights, gates and constant warning time circuits.
  Illinois $350,000 Upgrade two crossings and close one crossing on the Chicago—St. Louis segment.
  Indiana $200,000 Support routing studies as a basis for future grade crossing investments on the Indianapolis/Cincinnati segment.
  Michigan $500,000 Mitigate grade crossing hazards between Kalamazoo and Grand Beach, MI.
Gulf Coast Texas $125,000 Study the alignment between Houston and New Orleans in collaboration with Louisiana.
  Louisiana $325,000 Upgrade one crossing in New Orleans and conduct studies of route alignment and grade crossing inventory.
  Mississippi $355,000 Upgrade two very hazardous crossings(in Gulfport and Long Beach) and update grade crossing inventory.
  Alabama $345,000 Improve two crossings and update grade crossing inventory.
Florida   $300,000 Install one 4-quadrant gate system and one median gate on the former Seaboard line between West Palm Beach and Miami, which is heavily used by passenger trains.
Southeast Georgia $250,000 Develop an action plan for upgrading all crossings in Georgia’s HSR corridors.
  South Carolina $150,000 Develop an action plan for upgrading all crossings in SC’s HSR corridors.
  North Carolina $1,000,000 Close two crossings, install median barriers at four crossings and long gate arms at four crossings.
  Virginia $500,000 Construct highest-priority crossing improvements, such as a pedestrian overpass in Prince William County on this high-volume route between Washington, DC and Richmond.
Keystone Pennsylvania $500,000 Design a grade separation and one bypass road to eliminate the last three public crossings between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
Empire New York $400,000 Support the start of a 5-year program to close 15 crossings, construct five highway and two pedestrian bridges, upgrade five crossings and install locked gates at six private crossings between New York City and Schenectady.

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