Sen. Moran, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Identify and Address Blocked Railroad Crossings
Mar 22 2021
WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) – members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation – introduced legislation to identify and address instances of 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 just 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.”
“Railroads are a key part of our surface transportation system, but when trains block railroad-highway crossings, it can be more than just an inconvenience,” said Sen. Fischer. “Blocked railroad crossings can impede first responders, and can spur hazardous behavior such as children trying to cross. Our bipartisan legislation will ensure the FRA continues to collect the data it needs to understand the extent of these blocked crossings and keep Americans safe.”
“Blocked highway-railroad crossings can lead to more than just heavy traffic—they can be hazardous barriers for first responders and Montana drivers attempting to access critical routes,” said Sen. Tester. “This bipartisan bill gives Congress more data on these blocked crossings so we can ensure our highways are safer, more efficient, and can get folks where they need to go faster.”
“With more than 4,600 railroad crossings throughout Michigan, we must expand our capabilities to monitor and address instances of blocked rail crossings,” said Sen. Peters. “This bipartisan legislation will help the public 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 their critical duties.”
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 bill 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.
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