US Government Orders Rail Crossing Safety Updates; Contracting Opportunities Likely to Arise

A much-needed update for public safety, with many public works projects almost certainly to come.

Source : Federal Railroad Administration

December 26, 2020

Author : Patty Rodriguez

The Federal government has ordered 40 states and the District of Columbia “to develop and implement highway-rail grade crossing action plans to improve public safety,” according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published earlier this month.

“All 50 states and the District of Columbia are required to submit individual highway-rail grade crossing action plans to FRA for review and approval no later than 14 months after the final rule’s publication date of December 14, 2020,” the press release says, adding that the administration will help states with technical assistance.

While only 40 states are being asked to develop and implement action plans, 10 states identified in 2008 around the time of the Rail Safety Improvement Act as having the most highway-rail grade crossing collisions in the preceding three years were already asked to do these things. So now, Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas are being asked to “submit an updated action plan and a report to FRA describing what it did to implement its previous action plan and how it will continue to reduce crossing safety risks.”

As for the forty states that haven’t, they must “identify crossings that have experienced at least one accident or incident in the previous three years, multiple accidents or incidents in the previous five years, or that are determined by the state to be at high-risk for accidents or incidents.”

Each action plan must craft a specific strategy for improving safety at rail crossings, for example, by including crossing closures or moving roadways on top or below railways.

“Grade crossing accidents and incidents are the second leading cause of rail-related deaths in the United States, but nearly every one of them is preventable,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said. “The action plans give states a tool to engage with federal and local partners, railroads, and rail safety advocates to identify high risk crossings and develop strategies to save lives.”

“Safety is imperative to FHWA, especially where roads and rails meet,” added Federal Highway Administration head honcho Nicole R. Nason. “These action plans can help states make highway-rail grade crossings safer for the traveling public.”

While the identification of troublesome rail crossings is a job for the government, it is likely that the number of problematic crossings will be high, opening the door for an untold number of public works projects across the country. 

According to the FRA, over 200,000 at-grade rail crossings, in other words, instances where the “road meets the track,” exist in the United States. And it’s been years since many of them have been renovated/

While contracting will likely be handled on the local level, you can check the FRA’s website for contracting opportunities with the administration here.

Category : Contractor Trades Department of Transportation Federal Government Health and Safety Investment in Infrastructure State Government