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<< Rail News Home: C&S

8/27/2014    



Rail News: C&S

Oklahoma dedicates $100 million to upgrade more than 300 crossings



Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) officials yesterday unveiled a $100 million initiative aimed at improving more than 300 grade crossings statewide.

Warning devices and other safety features will be installed at the crossings, many of which only have crossing signs or faint pavement markings and no flashing lights or crossing gates. The accelerated improvements will be funded by combining proceeds from the recent sale of the state's Sooner Sub rail line to Stillwater Central Railroad and dedicated rail safety program dollars managed by ODOT and other partners.

Of the more than 3,700 crossings in the state, many have some safety deficiencies and most are located on local roads, state officials said in a press release.

"This initiative will help to save lives by boosting safety at hundreds of railroad crossings," said Fallin. "It's also another step forward for Oklahoma's rail industry and infrastructure, which is essential to our state's commerce and economic growth."

ODOT plans to modernize and/or improve crossings by adding high-visibility signage, crossbucks, gates, hazard lighting and pavement markings. Rail funding will be leveraged with other available public and private monies to improve as many priority crossings as possible, while ODOT also will partner with railroads and local entities to cover long-term maintenance requirements, state officials said.

Oklahoma previously did not have the funding resources to conduct a large-scale safety improvement program that could address the tremendous backlog of vital crossing improvements, they said. Previously, ODOT was able to spend about $8 million per year, which helped cover the cost of about about 25 crossing improvements.

"With this initiative, we believe Oklahoma should serve as a model for the rest of the country when it comes to proactively supporting safe rail crossings and the safe and efficient transport of products along rail corridors," said Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley.

ODOT officials expect to complete a preliminary multi-year plan of crossing locations and improvements in early 2015.



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