FRA awards $10 million to states to upgrade grade crossings
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) yesterday announced the award of nearly $10 million in grants for nine projects in eight states to upgrade the safety of grade crossings along energy routes. The funding will be provided under the Railroad Safety Grants for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) by Rail Program, according to an FRA press release. The agency received 34 eligible applications requesting five times — or $50.8 million — available for the program. Grants were awarded to state departments of transportation (DOT) in the states of Washington, California, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Arkansas and Louisiana. Elected officials in some of those states have already announced the grant awards and plans for them. "These grants will reduce accidents and fatalities at railroad crossings and help modernize our nation's rail system," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Through a combination of these grants, education and enforcement, we can — and will — achieve our goal of preventing accidents and deaths at railroad crossings." The FRA last year launched a new effort to address a recent uptick in fatalities at crossings. Collisions between trains and automotive vehicles at crossings are the second-leading cause of all railroad-related fatalities. In 2014, 267 individuals died in these collisions, according to the FRA.