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USDOT announces $59M in grant awards to improve safety at highway-railway crossings in four states

The Trucker recently reported that the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced a grant worth $59 million to help build safer crossings in the states of California, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania. The grant was only possible thanks to the FHWA’s Commuter Authority Rail Safety Improvement (CARSI) program.

The grants for the five projects, which were awarded by FHWA in collaboration with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), will be used to improve the safety of highway-rail crossings, including:

  • Adding signal features that will help drivers move away from the track before a train arrives in Ventura County, Southern California.
  • Modernizing 25 commuter rail crossings with improved lighting and other safety features in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties in Florida.
  • Improving accessibility and making warning system upgrades in Dutchess, Nassau, Putnam and Suffolk Counties in New York.

They also reported how U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg felt about the matter. “Safety is the number one priority of the U.S. Department of Transportation, especially as our country faces a crisis of fatalities on our roadways,” Buttigieg said. “Today’s grants, along with additional funds from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will improve safety at highway-rail crossings for travelers, whether they’re riding, driving, biking, or walking.”

According to Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack, the grants “show how multi-modal coordination and investment will improve safety for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians traveling where roads and railways intersect. By making these resources available, we can help commuter rail operators mitigate the risks.”

The CARSI competitive grant allocations are divided into two rounds.

  1. 1. In January 2021, USDOT awarded five grants totaling $40.2 million for CARSI Round One projects.
  2. 2. The CARSI Round Two grant recipients announced today are as follows:
    • The Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), operator of Metrolink, will receive a $12.5 million grant to bring three high-volume at-grade highway-railway crossings in Ventura County
    • The Southern Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) will receive a $12.9 million grant to modernize 25 rail crossings on its Tri-Rail commuter rail line in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties.
    • The New York State Department of Transportation and the Metro North Railroad (MNR) will receive a $4.4 million grant to make accessibility improvements for pedestrians and warning systems upgrades and to implement other safety improvements
    • The New York State Department of Transportation and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) will receive a $14.9 million grant for work on nine grade crossings
    • The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) will receive a $15 million grant to install gates, add pavement markings and make other improvements at 22 highway-railway grade crossings

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Act maintains funding for the Federal Highway Administration’s Rail-Highway Crossings Program at $245 million per year for the next five years.