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Rail News: Communication and Signal

Louisiana senator drafts bill to seek safer crossings

To improve grade crossing safety in the United States — including his home state of Louisiana that ranked fifth last year in crossing fatalities with 23 — Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) plans to introduce the Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2005.

The bill would appropriate $178 million to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) during a five-year period to award federal grants to states for crossing improvement projects, and provide Operation Lifesaver Inc. $6.7 million over five years to help fund public awareness and education programs.

The legislation also would require the USDOT to inspect at least 2 percent of all crossings in the 10 states with the highest collision rates; investigate each railroad involved in a fatal accident; close 1 percent of the crossings identified as the “most dangerous” each year for the next 10 years; and launch a pilot program to install cameras at crossings in the five states with the most accidents and fatalities.

“This legislation will provide … states with resources to make safety improvements to existing crossings to make them safer for residents and to close particularly dangerous crossings,” said Vitter in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/12/2005