The federal government would distribute $500 million a year from 2022 until 2026 for projects that separate trains from other travelers, in legislation filed by Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Their Railroad Crossing Elimination Act would let local agencies compete for federal grants of up to 80% for bridges, underpasses, track relocations, signals and technologies that prevent conflicts at grade crossings. One-fifth must be spent in rural or tribal lands.
"Too many people are injured or killed at at-grade crossings, and the safest crossing is one that does not exist. Crossings can also delay the movement of people and goods all across the United States, hurting our competitiveness," Cantwell said in her announcement Thursday, which mentioned six crashes in Washington state.
Cantwell, a longtime freight and ports booster, helped Seattle obtain money for the 2020 Lander Street Bridge, which provides four road lanes and one walk-bike lane above the BNSF Railway line in Sodo. Recently she spoke in Congress about an incident in her hometown of Edmonds that blocked paramedics, ferry traffic and pedestrians for three hours.
Nationally, some 2,500 people died and 9,100 were injured from 2010-19 at the nation's 210,000 train crossings, according to a March 2021 Senate committee report.