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By Grace Renderman, Associate Editor
In June, the Federal Railroad Administration announced the inaugural grants for its new Railroad Crossing Elimination (RCE) program.
More than $570 million in grant funding will be provided for 63 projects in 32 states that call for eliminating or upgrading unsafe grade crossings through grade separations, crossing closures and safety equipment improvements.
The FRA awarded an additional $15.7 million for planning activities and $33.1 million for project development/design activities related to crossing elimination projects. Twenty-two percent of the total funds — or $127.5 million — will be provided to projects in rural areas or on tribal lands.
Last year, more than 2,000 train-vehicle collisions occurred at U.S. crossings, according to the FRA. The administration also received 30,000 reports of blocked crossings through its public complaint portal.
The funded projects will address more than 400 of the nation’s 200,000-plus crossings.
“With these project selections and the many more that are to come, we will save lives and reshape infrastructure in ways that allow individuals to move through their neighborhoods seamlessly and safely,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose in a press release.
Following are some of the largest projects and their grant amounts:
Shelby County Road 52 crossing elimination project, Pelham, Alabama, $41.76 million. The work involves closing two crossings and replacing them with a new bridge over a CSX line;
32nd Street underpass project, Washougal, Washington, $40.48 million. The project calls for building a grade separation to reconnect the Addy Street neighborhood with the city’s downtown and port areas, and reconstructing five intersections along 32nd Street that cross a BNSF Railway Co. line;
Doran Street grade separation, Los Angeles, $38.3 million. Many incidents occur at the Doran Street crossing in Los Angeles County, so project organizers aim to eliminate a crossing and construct a grade separation structure linking Los Angeles and Glendale through West San Fernando Road and the Fairmont Avenue bridge;
West Belt improvement project, Houston, $36.9 million. The grant will help advance the first phase of a 14,600-foot sealed corridor project along a Houston Belt & Terminal Railroad line that involves the construction of four underpasses and the closure of four crossings along a 9,000-foot corridor;
State Highway 53-Pleasant View intersection grade separation, Hauser, Idaho, $36 million. The work calls for constructing a highway interchange and grade separation at the intersection, and closing three existing crossings along a 2-mile segment of a BNSF line;
Santa Teresa grade separation, Dona Ana County, New Mexico, $31.2 million. The project involves a new roadway grade separation over a Union Pacific Railroad line to replace a crossing that logs 40 trains each day;
42nd Street grade separation in Grand Forks, North Dakota, $30 million. The funds will support design and construction of a grade separation and addition of a 10-foot shared-use path. The project is located near BNSF’s Grand Forks Yard and will reduce vehicle delays by 131 hours; and
3rd Street grade separation in Cleveland, Tennessee, $27.5 million. The work calls for the replacement of a grade crossing on a Norfolk Southern Railway line with a flyover bridge, which will eliminate blocked crossings and improve freight-rail reliability in the area.