The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded a total of $59 million in grants to improve safety at highway-railway crossings in four states: California, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania. The grants are made possible by the FHWA’s Commuter Authority Rail Safety Improvement (CARSI) program.
In 2021 alone, there were 2,145 collisions, 235 fatalities, and 669 injuries at highway-rail crossings nationwide, according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The objective of the CARSI grants is to improve safety at highway-rail crossings for all travelers — drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Individual grants for five specific projects across four states range from $4.4 million to $15 million. The five recipients of the latest CARSI grants include:
The Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), operator of Metrolink, will receive a $12.5 million grant to bring three high-volume at-grade highway-railway crossings in Ventura County up to current SCRAA Grade Crossing Safety Standards and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The project will add wider medians and signal features that help drivers move away from the track before a train arrives. For pedestrians, it will add emergency swing gates and right-of-way fencing. Also noteworthy, the crossings are located in or near impoverished or disadvantaged communities.
The Southern Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) will receive $12.9 million to modernize 25 rail crossings with improved lighting and other safety features on its Tri-Rail commuter rail line in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties. The rail line is in an area where vehicular traffic has increased and where train traffic is expected to increase over the next several years as well.
The New York State Department of Transportation and the Metro North Railroad (MNR) is awarded a $4.4 million grant to make accessibility improvements for pedestrians and warning systems upgrades and to implement other safety improvements at five grade crossings located in Dutchess and Putnam Counties on the MNR’s Hudson and Harlem Lines, which have substantial train volumes.
The New York State Department of Transportation and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) will receive $14.9 million in funding for work on nine grade crossings located in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on the LIRR’s Central, Main Line, and West Hempstead Branches, including interconnection to traffic signal systems, updates to railroad flashing light signals, installation of audible warning devices, enhanced pedestrian treatments and pathways, signs, and pavement markings for vehicles approaching the grade crossing, and roadway resurfacing and sidewalk expansion.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is awarded a $15 million grant to install gates, add pavement markings, and make other improvements at 22 highway-railway grade crossings in Philadelphia and in Bucks, Delaware, and Montgomery counties on its regional commuter rail system, which shares significant trackage with freight carriers.
Highway-rail grade crossing collisions and pedestrian trespass on tracks together account for over 95% of all railroad fatalities, according to data from the Federal Railroad Administration.