The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced on Thursday that cities and other eligible applicants can now submit proposals for the new Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program. This program will fund highway-rail or pathway-rail crossing improvements that focus on improving the safety and mobility of people and goods.
USDOT will award over $573 million this fiscal year with $114.7 million set aside exclusively for projects outside urbanized areas. The bipartisan infrastructure law authorizes the funds each fiscal year through 2026.
The program will fund improvement projects that cost at least $1 million, although awards could be smaller for planning projects. Improvements may include installing or improving crossings, crossing signals, gates, traffic signals, lighting, signage, medians, barriers, and more to reduce risk.
The Federal Railroad Administration reported over 300 highway-rail grade crossing incidents in Kentucky since 2015. Only seven of those included pedestrians; all others involved various forms of motor vehicles.
Highway-rail grade crossings include projects where a public highway, road, street, or private roadway crosses one or more railroad tracks at grade. These crossings can include associated sidewalks and pathways. Pathway-rail grade crossings include crossings dedicated for the use of non-vehicular traffic including pedestrians, bicyclists, and others not associated with a roadway.
The railroad crossing grants require a 20% non-federal match from either public or private sector funding. Grant applications are due 90 days after the public notice gets published in the Federal Register, which should happen in the coming days.