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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

FRA safety grants include millions to Amtrak, Metro North, short lines


The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) yesterday awarded $25 million in grants to increase safety at railroad crossings, train stations, and tracks across the United States.

A total of 23 projects in 14 states and the District of Columbia received funding, FRA officials said in a press release.

The agency received 40 eligible applications requesting $67.5 million in funding, nearly three times the amount that Congress provided in the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act that funds the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Railroad Safety Infrastructure Improvement Grants fund safety improvements to railroad infrastructure, including the acquisition, improvement, or rehabilitation of intermodal facilities; improvements to track, bridges, rail yards, and tunnels; upgrades to railroad crossings; and the separation of railroad crossings and roads.

The grants include a $2.35 million awarded to Amtrak to provide a new emergency egress stairway and fire suppression system in the North Hangar and Clayton Concourse, which serve trains moving north and south out of Washington Union Station in the District of Columbia.

"These grants will improve safety at hundreds of railroad crossings and make important safety upgrades at stations across the country," said FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg. "This is an investment that is desperately needed – and I urge state [departments of transportations] to join the FRA in investing more in improving safety at crossings.”

Other station-related grants include:
•  $2.69 million to the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District to add two platform access points at the East Chicago Train Station in East Chicago, Ind., to distribute passengers along the full length of the train to reduce congestion and improve egress operations.
• $1.61 million to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) to construct a new pedestrian underpass and two new rail bridges at SEPTA's Lawndale Station in Philadelphia.
• $269,600 to Dallas Area Rapid Transit to provide safety improvements at 10 passenger-rail stations.

Grants related to crossings include:
• $1.91 million to the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to install CCTV cameras to record grade crossing movements at 43 identified grade crossings within MTA Metro‐North Railroad territory in New York to investigate specific incidents and analyze crossing/traffic operations for targeted modifications to improve safety. Metro‐North and MTA Long Island Rail Road will work separately as subsidiaries of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on this project.
• $1.90 million to fund installing upgrades to three grade crossings to mitigate hazardous conditions between highway and rail traffic. The Metro-North Railroad project includes upgrading the roadway, pavement markings, and signage at a heavily used grade crossing in North White Plains. The Long Island Rail Road project will improve two public highway grade crossings in Deer Park and Oceanside, N.Y., with preemptive safety equipment and undertake roadway/traffic control improvements.
 • $1.34 million to the NYSDOT to add highway traffic signal preemption to seven grade crossings on Metro-North's Harlem and Port Jervis Lines in New York to activate the traffic signals at the intersections and allow queued traffic to exit onto the highway prior to the activation of the railroad grade crossing warning systems.
• $1.06 million to the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board in California to install safety measures at 10 grade crossings along the commuter-rail line in San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Francisco counties.
• $129,537 to the Indiana Rail Road Co. in Indiana, to improve 321 grade crossings in 10 Indiana and Illinois counties by clearing vegetation from 201 crossings over highways and installing grade crossing warning signs at 120 private road crossings that intersect with the railroad.
• $700,000 to the Maryland Department of Transportation to improve four sequential, private grade crossings in Rosedale, Md.
• $640,000 to the Indiana Department of Transportation to upgrade four major at-risk grade crossings.
• $390,000 to the Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern Railroad in New York to to resurface 10 grade crossings and replace/upgrade passive warning devices in poor condition at 35 additional crossings on the Newton Falls Branch, which extends 46.25 miles into Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties.
• $385,000 to the Iberville Parish Government in Louisiana to improve two Iberville Parish grade crossings by installing signals and gates. The project also will reconstruct roadway approaches and railway crossings.
• $374,598 to the St. Louis and Lake Counties Regional Railroad Authority in Minnesota, to replace and upgrade the warning systems at four grade crossings along a passenger excursion line in Duluth to improve pedestrian safety and mitigate the risks associated with cars idling over the tracks.
• $328,707 to the South Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Public Railways to upgrade seven grade crossings that serve several industries, including the South Carolina Port Authority in North Charleston.
• $160,422 to Buffalo, Minn., to upgrade a single grade crossing at 2nd Street South and Canadian Pacific track in Buffalo.

Track-related grants include:
• $2.37 million to the Providence and Worcester Railroad Co. in Massachusetts to rehabilitate 12 miles of century-old rail to improve track conditions substantially with new continuous welded rail and ties along Providence and Worcester Railroad's Gardner Branch rail line in central Massachusetts.
• $600,000 to the Ohio Rail Development Commission to upgrade 9.7 miles of track to Class II track from Hamden to Red Diamond, Ohio, on the Jackson line to provide a safe rail corridor for the transportation of hazardous materials.
• $442,887 to the San Luis Central Railroad in Illinois to upgrade 2.15 miles of a 13.2-mile system, resulting in a total of 7.5 miles of 90-pound rail to Class I standards, capable of operating 280,000-pound rail cars along San Luis Central Railroad's main line between Vastine and Ansel stations in Rio Grande County, Colo.