The Crusader Newspaper Group

Transportation safety advocate Rep. Jackson celebrates $21 million railroad crossing elimination grant

Photo caption: Gary Railway Company

Indiana will receive $21 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Railroad Crossing Elimination (RCE) Grant Program to reduce train-vehicle collisions and blocked crossings. Hammond, Indiana was put on the map after a ProPublica story detailed the dangers and disruptions that derailments and blocked crossings have on residents. State Rep. Carolyn Jackson (D-Hammond) has long championed safety solutions and funding to fix the problem for the safety and well-being of her constituents. Recently, Jackson celebrated the announcement of the RCE Grant Program funding and looks forward to positive changes in the district.

“Rail is a critical part of America’s transportation infrastructure and supply chain system,” Jackson said. “Residents of Hammond for too long have suffered the consequences of dangerous and disruptive blockages, which are often preventable. Shocking stories detail kids forced to crawl under trains to get to schools and emergency services jammed up at railways. Indiana’s commuters, residents and first-responders not only lose valuable time, but often find themselves in dangerous positions at the site of these preventable transportation incidents.”

State Rep. Carolyn Jackson has long advocated for meaningful change to the rail system, including a bill filled this year and a letter sent to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. House Bill 1013 required a railroad company to inform the local law enforcement authority of a blocked railroad-highway grade crossing. The bill unfortunately did not get a hearing in the Indiana House Roads and Transportation Committee and therefore died in the 2023 Legislative Session.

“Today represents a meaningful first step in addressing concerns at railways across America,” Jackson added. “I look forward to seeing how the $21 million dollars will make it easier and safer to get around with the addition of grade separations, closing at-grade crossings and improving existing at-grade crossings where trains tracks and railroads intersect.”

Still, the issue of stopped trains is a nationwide problem. Just last year, there were more than 30,000 reports of blocked crossings submitted to the FRA and more than 2,000 highway-rail crossing collisions according to a press release.

“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 in a press release. “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.”

The $21 million grant will fund five projects in Indiana, including Hammond, Gary, Schererville, Peru and Wells County. Proposed safety improvements range from the elimination of some railroad crossings to a road overpass. Some of the projects are supplemented by other federal funds, state transportation funds, railroad companies and local governments. The grant is just a piece of a total $570 million in funding to approve railroad safety nationwide.

The Biden-Harris Administration announced funding for 63 projects in 32 states totaling $570 million nationally. More information on the program can be found online.

Recent News

Scroll to Top