Nov 20 2020
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety – joined Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) to introduce legislation to identify and address blocked railroad crossings.
“Many Kansans have experienced the frustration of waiting at a blocked railroad crossing, and in some cases, this interruption can be much more damaging than a delayed arrival home,” said Sen. Moran. “Whether you are a first responder answering a call or a rancher transporting livestock, blocked railroad crossings can become costly or even hazardous barriers for road traffic. This legislation allows the Federal Railroad Administration to continue collecting important data on blocked railroad crossings to make certain our roads are safe and efficient for travel.”
“There are more than 200,000 highway-railroad crossings across this country,” said Sen. Fischer. “When trains block these crossings, it can cause major inconveniences and even delay first responders. My legislation would ensure the collection of data on blocked crossings to help Congress develop policies that will make America’s roads safer and more convenient.”
“We’ve got to do a better job ensuring that our highway-railroad crossings aren’t blocking critical routes for emergency responders or causing significant delays or traffic,” said Sen. Tester. “In order to do that, Congress needs better data on these blocked crossings so that we can make our highways safer, more efficient, and get people where they need to go a lot faster, and this bipartisan bill will do just that.”
“With more than 4,600 rail crossings across Michigan, we must ensure we’re monitoring and addressing instances of blocked rail crossings,” said Sen. Peters. “I’m glad to partner with Sen. Fischer to help ensure the public can play a more significant role in reducing and mitigating blocked crossings, which not only impede traffic for drivers but in some cases have prevented emergency responders from performing the vital work that they do.”
In December 2019, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) posted its Blocked Crossing Incident Reporter portal through which the public and law enforcement could report blocked grade crossings to the agency. This legislation would authorize the FRA’s blocked crossing portal as a three-year pilot program, ensuring data collection continues. The FRA would be required to analyze submissions to the portal based on key criteria and provide an analysis to Congress. By authorizing the blocked crossing portal and examining the results, Congress can better understand the scope and severity of blocked crossings and develop targeted, effective policy to address them.
The bill also requires the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to evaluate the requirements of the Section 130 railway-highway grade crossing program to identify any additional flexibilities in the program that could support states’ efforts to make grade crossings safer.