WASHINGTON — Indiana will receive more funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to reduce train-vehicle collisions and blocked crossings.

The FRA has awarded over $21 million in Railroad Crossing Elimination (RCE) Grant Program funding for five projects. Nationally the RCE Program will provide over $570 million in funding for 63 projects across 32 states.

The funding will address more than 400 crossings to help improve safety and make it easier to get around railroad tracks by adding grade separations, closing at-grade crossings and improving existing at-grade crossings where train tracks and roads intersect.

A driver waits for two Union Pacific freight trains to pass a grade crossing June 16, 2006 in Elmhurst, Illinois. The Federal Railroad Administrator (FRA) in a recently issued report says for the safety of rail passengers and motorists, they support the extended use of emergency tool-free phone numbers, used to report problems with railroad crossing warning equipment and other emergencies, posted at railroad grade crossings. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

In 2022 there were more than 2,000 highway-rail crossing collisions in the U.S. and more than 30,000 reports of blocked crossings submitted to FRA’s public complaint portal. Earlier this year a major derailment in East Palestine, Ohio became a national reminder of the threats of unmaintained railways. It was a big deal for Hoosiers in Putnam County as a landfill there received some of the toxic waste from the cleanup by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“Every year, commuters, residents, and first responders lose valuable time waiting at blocked railroad crossings – and worse, those crossings are too often the site of collisions that could be prevented,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we’re improving rail crossings in communities across the country to save lives, time, and resources for American families.” 

Projects supported by RCE in Indiana include:

  • Governors Parkway Railroad Overpass Project ($7,029,392)
    • (City of Hammond)
    • Will eliminate two grade crossings on the intersection of Parrish and Arizona Avenue where they intersect with Norfolk Southern Railway’s rail line and build a grade-separated road overpass and a new road alignment to be called Governor’s Parkway.
  • Buffington Harbor Gateway Project ($4,500,000)
    • (City of Gary)
    • Will support construction to eliminate eight at-grade rail crossings on a heavily traveled freight corridor that is also part of the military’s Strategic Rail Corridor Network.
  • Peru Grade Separation Feasibility Study ($76,000)
    • (City of Peru)
    • Will assess the feasibility of eliminating one or more of six at-grade rail crossings as well as the construction of an underpass on Norfolk Southern right-of-way. Trains are required to stop at the nearby rail yard for crew transfers which frequently block the crossings.
  • Kennedy Avenue Railroad Overpass Project ($8,452,558)
    • (Town of Schererville)
    • Will fund the final design and construction of a grade separation in the Town of Schererville.
  • Wells County Hoosier Highway Crossing Elimination Project ($1,114,261)
    • (Wells County)
    • Will support development efforts to close three at-grade rail crossings on Norfolk Southern’s rail line by re-aligning Hoosier Highway. The project will ease congestion and improve mobility by allowing for continuous vehicular travel flow, reducing delays and reducing conflict points between rail and motorists. 

There are more than 130,000 miles of railroad across the U.S. and the department says improving safety in the communities they run is a priority.

To find more information about the RCE program you can head to the U.S. Department of Transportation website. There you can also find a full list of Fiscal Year 2022 RCE Program project selections.