The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced it is soliciting applications for $10 million in grant funding for states to improve grade crossings and track along routes that transport crude oil, ethanol and other energy products.
The FRA’s guidelines for the grant applications encourage states to include solutions for improving safety, particularly at crossings. The funding is part of the Railroad Safety grants for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) by Rail Program, according to an FRA press release.
“The U.S. Department of Transportation has made increasing safety at highway-rail grade crossings, especially along routes transporting energy products, one of its top priorities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This money allows the Department to support innovative ideas and solutions developed at the local level, and I encourage states to apply for this funding.”
Collisions at crossings are the second leading cause of all railroad-related fatalities, according to the FRA. In 2014, 269 people died in such collisions. Although the number of fatalities as decreased over the past several decades, the number increased last year for the first in the last decade, FRA officials said.
The accidents often are the result of a driver’s lack of awareness of a crossing or an oncoming train, or a driver’s attempt to “beat the train,” FRA officials added.