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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Four Illinois congressmen urge USDOT to provide TIGER V grant for grade separation; FRA unveils smartphone app for crossing info

U.S. Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Reps. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) recently sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urging the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to provide a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for the construction of a railroad underpass at Carpenter Street in Springfield, Ill.

The city of Springfield proposes to build the underpass at tracks located at 10th Street. The grade separation is an important component of the Springfield Rail Improvement Project and Chicago-to-St. Louis passenger-rail corridor, the Illinois congressmen wrote, adding that the project is a beginning step toward double tracking the corridor to increase capacity for additional passenger-rail service along the 110-mph route.

The city and Sangamon County, with support from the Illinois Department of Transportation, recently submitted a TIGER V grant application to the USDOT seeking $14 million for the underpass. A total of $475 million is available through the fifth round of the TIGER program and the USDOT expects to announce grant recipients in September.

"The future of the Springfield Rail Improvement project depends on federal support for rail projects," the congressmen wrote. "The underpass will allow the city to eliminate three grade crossings, decreasing car and train accidents by 80 percent, reducing vehicle delays at rail crossings by 71 percent and improving access for emergency first responders for thousands of Springfield residents."

Meanwhile, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) yesterday announced the launch of Rail Crossing Indicator, an iOS smartphone mobile application designed to provide the public access to safety information about the nation's more than 200,000 crossings.

Available free through Apple's App Store for use on any iPhone or iPad, the application prompts users to enter a specific location and receive information about crossings in their area, such as the physical characteristics of a crossing and the type of traffic control devices installed. Users also can report information about crossings to the FRA to ensure the most accurate and up-to-date information is available.

"We believe that giving people better information leads to smarter and safer travel," said LaHood in a press release. "With the Rail Crossing Locator, individuals can use a mobile app to access information wherever they are to improve neighborhood safety and make better personal travel choices."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/19/2013