Senators Call for Budget Boost to Safeguard Rail Crossings

Two U.S. senators proposed Sunday that the federal government pump an additional $200 million into safeguarding railroad crossings over the next four years.

The Federal Highway Administration currently budgets $220 million a year to fix dangerous crossings, but Sens. Charles Schumer and Richard Blumenthal say funding levels are inadequate.

"Many of New York's hundreds of rail-grade crossings are truly accidents waiting to happen, and it's critical that the federal government do more to make engineering upgrades at accident-prone crossings," said Schumer, D.-New York.

Schumer and Blumenthal, D.-Connecticut, announced their intent to introduce a bill to boost federal highway funding at a news conference at Grand Central Terminal, the departure point for the Metro-North train that crashed into a car earlier this month in Valhalla, north of the city. The car's driver died, as did five train passengers.

The lawmakers noted that more than 2,000 collisions occurred nationally in grade-crossing accidents in 2013, and more than 200 people died. Schumer and Blumenthal plan to introduce a bill later this month to fund engineering and safety upgrades for crossings across the country.

Blumenthal said that on average, there's an accident every three hours at rail intersections that still rely on outdated signal and warning systems.

The senators said that if the bill is enacted, funds would go to the Federal Railroad Administration and to states and localities for new lights and signals as well as education materials. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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