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The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has approved a five-year grade crossing safety improvement program for fiscal years 2023 to 2027.
In that timeframe, the commission expects to allocate $386 million from the state’s Grade Crossing Protection Fund (GCPF) to help railroads and communities pay for upgrades at nearly 879 crossings.
At 7,550, Illinois is second only to Texas in the total number of crossings in a state. Preliminary 2021 statistics show 104 crossing collisions occurred in Illinois compared with 83 in 2020. Fatalities resulting from crossing collisions increased from 16 in 2020 to 22 in 2021.
"The projects included in this [five-year] plan are reflective of [our] priorities to address crossings with a high collision history, to improve pedestrian access at public highway-rail locations, and upgrade remote monitoring and automatic warning devices to improve safety and assist with the flow of people and goods on our railways and highways," said ICC Chairman Carrie Zalewski in a press release.
Projects identified in the multi-year plan are prioritized based on several criteria, including safety, volume and types of rail and highway traffic. The projects include grade separations and safety device upgrades.
Last year, the state allocated $78 million to the GCPF as part of the Rebuild Illinois capital program to address long-standing crossing protection or grade separation projects.