Biden administration gives $570 m to rail crossing safety projects

Last year, there were more than 2,000 collisions at railway crossings like this one
Railroad crossing, Garden City, Kansas. Photo: Rashmee Roshan Lall

On June 5, the Biden administration announced that it had awarded $570 million to rail crossing safety projects in 32 states. As they say, with the debt ceiling taken care of until after the next election, Washington, D.C. has a few minutes to exhale and think about other things.

So to the award, the first round of a railroad crossing programme funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Not before time. Last year, there were more than 2,000 collisions nationwide at railway crossings like the one in the photograph, as well as more than 30,000 reports of blocked crossings.

The 63 projects are meant to reduce collisions between trains and vehicles at places where rail tracks intersect with roads, the Department of Transportation said in a release.

They mean places like this point in Garden City, Kansas. I took the photograph as we stopped at the crossing early in the morning on May 11. We were riding Amtrak’s wonderful big beast of a train, the Southwest Chief, from Illinois to New Mexico.

It looks like this particular rail crossing won’t be in the first round of funding. The initial projects appear to be concentrated in California, Florida, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.

They’re urgent. The planned investment in America’s trains – upgrade  and improving safety – is being touted as part of President Biden’s investing in America agenda.

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac

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Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Sunset Limited…American trains are grand