Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives approved an amendment authored by Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) to the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 (H.R. 749) that would require states to develop rail-highway grade crossing safety plans.
“As a nation, we must do more to address rail-highway grade crossing safety, and address the increasing backlog of safety improvement projects nationwide,” said Brownley. “We must also ensure that federal funds are prioritized to address safety improvements at the most dangerous crossings and crossings that have experienced multiple accidents, like the Rice Avenue crossing in Oxnard.”
Brownley’s amendment would require each state to develop a grade crossing action plan. These state action plans would be required to identify specific solutions for improving safety at rail-highway crossings, including grade crossing closures or grade separations. Furthermore, her amendment would direct states to focus safety resources on crossings that have experienced recent grade crossing accidents or multiple accidents, or those crossings that are at high risk for accidents.
Nationally, the Federal Railroad Administration estimates that there were 2,087 accidents at railroad crossings in 2013 – with 251 fatalities and 929 injuries. In 2014, Congress invested $220 million in the Railway-Highway Crossings Program. Yet, under Title 49, only 10 states are required by federal law to have action plans, prioritizing rail-highway safety improvements.
“It is critically important for Congress to ensure that federal dollars for passenger rail infrastructure improvements are used wisely,” Brownley said. “My amendment would get at the heart of this issue – requiring every state to have specific plans in place that will both ensure the wise use of taxpayer dollars and address rail-highway grade crossing safety in a systematic way.”
The text of Brownley’s amendment can be found here: LINK
Brownley’s House floor remarks on her amendment can be viewed here: LINK