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Federal Railroad Administration Awards Louisiana $1.1 Million to Increase Safety at Rail Crossings Along 6-Mile Route in Baton Rouge

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

 

Part of agency’s comprehensive campaign to reduce fatalities at railroad crossings

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today awarded a $1.1 million grant to the State of Louisiana to increase safety at railroad crossings along six miles of Kansas City Southern tracks from North Street to Louise Street in Baton Rouge. The project is one of nine rail projects in eight states selected to receive nearly $10 million to upgrade and increase the safety of railroad crossings along energy routes under the Railroad Safety Grants for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) by Rail Program. FRA received 34 eligible applications requesting five times the $10 million available for the program, or $50.8 million.

“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.”

Of the 15 crossings along the route, six will be closed and nine will be upgraded to have lights, gates, and other road improvements. Since 2000, there have been 11 accidents that have resulted in four injuries along this corridor in Baton Rouge. An average of eight trains travel along this route each day. In 2014, Louisiana ranked in the top five states for fatalities at railroad crossings with 13 fatalities.

“Families in this neighborhood travel across these tracks every day taking their children to school and going to work. But these crossings do not have all the safety measures that families and this community deserve with so many trains transporting crude oil and other energy products. Today’s investment will go a long way to keep families safe and move us closer to achieving the goal of reducing fatalities at railroad crossings,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg.

Last year, FRA launched a new, comprehensive campaign to reverse the recent uptick in railroad crossing fatalities. The campaign includes partnering with Google and other tech companies to use FRA data that pinpoints the country’s 200,000 railroad crossings to add visual and audio alerts to map applications. FRA has also worked with local law enforcement to increase enforcement around railroad crossings. Collisions between trains and vehicles at railroad crossings are the second-leading cause of all railroad-related fatalities. In 2014, 267 individuals died in these collisions.

Upgrades planned at the following nine crossings include:

Main St. - DOT: 335439Y

  • Install railroad crossing gates where only flashers currently exist

  • Install median
     

North St. - DOT: 335438S

  • Install railroad crossing gates
     

Laurel St. - DOT: 335440T

  • Install railroad crossing gates where only flashers currently exist

  • Install railroad pavement markings

     

    Florida Blvd. - DOT: 335441A

  • Install crossing gates

  • Install median

  • Install pavement markings

 

Convention St. - DOT: 335442G

  • Install crossing gates

  • Install median

  • Install pavement markings

 

Government St. - DOT: 335445C

  • Install crossing gates

  • Install median

  • Install pavement markings

 

Myrtle Walk. - DOT: 335447R

  • Install crossing gates

  • Install median

  • Install pavement markings

 

Terrace Ave. - DOT: 335449E

  • Install crossing gates

  • Install median

  • Install pavement markings

 

Louise St. - DOT: 335451F

  • Install flashers and crossing gates

  • Extend and reroute existing crossing to accommodate sidewalk

  • Install pavement markings

 

The following six crossings are planned for closure:

  • Wisteria St. - DOT: 335136P

  • South Blvd - DOT: 335446J

  • Julia Street - DOT: 335448X

  • Smith Street - DOT: 335450Y

  • Orange Street - DOT: 335110M

  • Apple Street - DOT: 335112B

In addition to railroad crossing initiatives, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has taken more than three dozen actions to increase the safety of energy products transported by rail in the last two years. In 2015, DOT released its comprehensive rule that raises the bar on the safety of transporting crude oil by rail. The rule requires stronger tank cars and a new brake system that activates simultaneously on all tank cars, reduces the distance and time needed for a train to stop, and keeps more tank cars on the track if a train does derail. DOT has also required that railroads transporting crude oil notify State Emergency Response Commissions of the movement of crude oil through individual states.

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