The Federal Railroad Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation will give Arkansas $576,000 for a study to improve safety at railroad crossings in Northwest Arkansas, according to a Monday (June 5) news release. The money comes from the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law or the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The Northwest Arkansas Rail Corridor Safety Study is expected to identify safety improvements at eight at-grade crossings along a 14-mile stretch from Fayetteville to Springdale. It will determine whether the crossings, which are owned by Springdale-based Arkansas & Missouri Railroad, should be separated or closed or if other safety improvements are needed if closure isn’t feasible. The release shows the cities of Fayetteville and Springdale are expected to pay a 20% non-federal match for the project.
The study is one of the inaugural projects in the Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program. Nationally, the program will provide more than $570 million for 63 projects in 32 states. The initial projects will address more than 400 at-grade crossings nationwide to improve safety and make it easier to get around railroad tracks by adding grade separations, closing at-grade crossings and improving existing crossings where train tracks and roads intersect.
Last year, the United States had more than 2,000 highway-rail crossing collisions, and more than 30,000 reports of blocked crossings were submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration’s public complaint portal.
“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 (Joe) 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.”
Over the next four years, more money will be made available annually through the Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program. The United States has more than 130,000 miles of railroad track.