WASHINGTON D.C.: The Biden administration has announced that it is providing grants worth $570 million to eliminate many dangerous railroad crossings in 32 states, in response to the rail industry relying on longer trains to cut costs.
The grants are aimed at helping build bridges and underpasses at the sites of more than three dozen crossings, which have delayed traffic, along with first responders on calls.
Trains measuring more than 2 miles can block crossings for hours in some areas, cutting off access to towns and forcing pedestrians to attempt the dangerous act of climbing through trains that could start moving without warning.
"We see countless stories of people unable to get to work on time, goods being blocked from getting where they need to be and first responders being delayed by these trains, that can be slowed or stopped, even seeing images of children having to crawl between or under freight trains in order to get to school," said US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
In addition, some 2,000 collisions are reported each year at railroad crossings, with almost 250 deaths being recorded last year in car-train crashes.
As part of efforts to cut costs, major freight railroads have recently began using longer trains in smaller numbers so they can use fewer crews and locomotives.
These changes have not increased the dangers to the public, they claimed, but regulators and Congress are scrutinizing their operations closely after several recent high-profile derailments.
The grants are part of $3 billion in funding approved in the $1 trillion infrastructure law for these rail crossing projects, which will be distributed over the next five years.