Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announces $320.6 million for rail safety, infrastructure

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 1:38 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced $320 million to upgrade 50 rail projects across the country.

She says the funding will come from grants under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program.

The projects selected include a variety of railroad investments that she says will improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of freight and passenger services.

“Infrastructure is the backbone of our nation’s economy. It’s key to remaining competitive,” said Chao. “This wave of infrastructure investments will support 50 rail projects in 29 states and it’s going to spur economic growth across the country and in local communities, as well.”

According to the department, some of the projects will upgrade railroad track, switches, and station facilities.

Nine of the projects will specifically address safety at highway-rail crossings and deter illegal trespassing, which Chao says is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America.

“Hundreds of people die from trespassing on railroad crossing properties,” said Chao. “We want to let people know that this is a very preventable tragedy”

Chao is also announcing a nationwide $6.7 million public safety campaign. According to the Department of Transportation, 270 people were killed in 2018 at railroad crossings. Of those, 99 people died after the driver went around lowered crossing gate arms.

Chao also noted passenger ridership is increasing. As the economy reopens, she says she hopes that passengers will have increased confidence to take rail again.

The projects are located in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

A list of projects selected for FY 2020 CRISI funding can be viewed here.

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