FRA publishes rule requiring state plans on grade crossing safety

Ten states must update existing plans; 40 and District of Columbia must develop plans
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Traffic waits for a Brightline train at a grade crossing in Delray Beach, Fla., in January 2019. States must update or create plans addressing grade-crossing safety under a new Federal Railroad Administration rule.
TRAINS: David Lassen

WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration has published its final rule requiring states to create action plans addressing safety at rail-highway grade crossings, a rule addressing a mandate of the federal FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transporation) Act.

The rule requires 40 states and the District of Columbia to develop plans that identify any grade crossing that has been the site of at least one accident or incident in the past three years, multiple accidents in the past five years, or is determined by the state to be high risk for accidents. The plan must also identify specific strategies for improving safety at crossings.

Ten states which already had plans under the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 must update those plans and submit reports describing their implementation efforts. Those 10 states — Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas— had the most grade-crossing accidents between 2006 and 2008, and were required to develop plans under a 2010 FRA rule.

“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 in a press release. “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.”

The states and District of Columbia must submit their reports to the FRA no later than 14 months after the rule’s Dec. 14 publication in the Federal Register. The full rule is available here.

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