10 States Told to Develop Grade Crossing Action Plans

The Federal Railroad Administration's directive was ordered by Congress and affects states with the highest number of incidents in 2006-2008. Texas, Illinois, and California top that list.

Following Congress' order, a new final rule from the Federal Railroad Administration requires the 10 states averaging the most highway-rail grade crossing collisions during 2006-2008 to develop five-year grade crossing action plans. While the text of the rule does not identify the 10 states, online data maintained by FRA's Office of Safety Analysis show Texas, Illinois, California, Indiana, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Iowa, and Arkansas recorded the most incidents in 2006, 2007, and 2008. There were 961 total incidents recorded nationwide this year through June 30, a 20 percent drop from the same point a year earlier.

Texas, Illinois, California, Indiana, Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida recorded also recorded the most highway-rail grade crossing fatalities in 2006-2008, along with Ohio, Alabama, Mississippi, Kansas, and North Carolina. In 2009 through June 30, fatalities nationwide at grade crossings totaled 110, down from 131 at the same point in 2008, according to the data.

The plans must identify specific solutions for improving safety at crossings, including crossing closures or grade separations, and they must focus on crossings that have experienced multiple accidents or are at high risk for such accidents. The rule says FRA expects the states can be expected to develop their plans by November 2010, and the plans must cover a five-year period. "A five-year period is appropriate because many of the remedial actions that may be included in these plans (e.g., closures and grade separations) may take up to five years to implement," it states.

The top 10 states accounted for almost 4,200 accidents during 2006-2008, 546 deaths, 1,666 injuries, and more than $28.5 million in motor vehicle damage from those wrecks, the rule states.

>Contacts for information about the rule are Ron Ries in FRA's Office of Safety, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, RRS-23, Mail Stop 25, Washington, DC 20590 (phone 202-493-6299) and Zeb Schorr, a trial attorney in the FRA Office of Chief Counsel, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Mail Stop 10, Washington, DC 20590 (phone 202-493-6072).

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