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USDOT releases $573 million in FY 2022 through new Railroad Crossing Elimination Program

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    USDOT releases $573 million in FY 2022 through new Railroad Crossing Elimination Program

    On June 30, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for $573 million in FY 2022 through the competitive Railroad Crossing Elimination Program (RCEP). Created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL/P.L. 117-58), the program will provide $3 billion over five years for highway-rail or pathway-rail grade crossing improvement projects that enhance the safety and mobility of goods and people. Subject to the federal appropriations process, the BIL authorizes funding for the RCEP at up to $5.5 billion through FY 2026.

    Counties, groups of counties and multijurisdictional groups of local governments are among the program’s eligible applicants and may apply for funding directly through USDOT by responding to the NOFO. Funds will be awarded by USDOT on a competitive basis to carry out eligible activities, including:

    • Grade separation or closure
    • Track relocation
    • Improvement or installation of protective devices
    • Planning, environmental review and design of an eligible project

    Nearly 100 percent of at-grade crossings are located within county boundaries. Amplified by recent tragic events, including the loss of life as the result of a passenger train striking a heavy truck in an at-grade crossing, these dangerous intersections pose serious risks to drivers, pedestrians, rail passengers and freight. These crossings create the potential for underserved populations who may be cut off from vital services for hours at a time due to blocked crossings. Emergency response can be severely impacted, as well, with some counties providing first responder services on both sides of a crossing because of the time it takes for what may be a miles-long train to pass.

    These intersections also hinder economic development, with some crossings blocked for hours each day, while simultaneously costing communities. According to a report from the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, “One analysis from the Nebraska Department of Transportation found that on average each grade crossing incident costs $805,675 – taking into account medical costs, property damage, congestion costs, and loss of productivity. Extrapolating this research nationally, it is estimated that highway-rail crossing incidents result in $1.7 billion worth of damages in 2019 – or more than $17 billion over the last decade.”

    Unfortunately, not only do at-grade crossings cost counties money, they are also extremely expensive to remediate. The same Senate Commerce report found that, at-grade crossing projects to relocate the track or install a grade separation typically cost anywhere between $5 million and $40 million, with more complex projects reaching upwards of $100 million. To offset the immense costs associated with at-grade crossing elimination projects, counties strongly urge federal appropriators to provide the additional funding authorized by the BIL from the U.S. Treasury’s general fund, which would direct an additional $2.5 billion to this program over five years if fulfilled.

    Billions are available now through competitive grant programs that counties can apply for directly through USDOT and other federal agencies covered in the BIL. To learn more about the RCEP and other BIL federal funding opportunities for county infrastructure, view NACo’s implementation and funding matrix page.

    Counties are eligible to apply directly to USDOT for crossing elimination projects that improve the safety and mobility of goods and people
    2022-07-01
    Blog
    2022-07-11

To offset the immense costs associated with at-grade crossing elimination projects, counties strongly urge federal appropriators to provide the additional funding authorized by the BIL from the U.S. Treasury’s general fund, which would direct an additional $2.5 billion to this program over five years if fulfilled.  

USDOT released a notice of funding opportunity for $573 million in FY 2022 Railroad Crossing Elimination Program funds Counties are eligible to apply directly to USDOT for crossing elimination projects that improve the safety and mobility of goods and people

On June 30, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for $573 million in FY 2022 through the competitive Railroad Crossing Elimination Program (RCEP). Created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL/P.L. 117-58), the program will provide $3 billion over five years for highway-rail or pathway-rail grade crossing improvement projects that enhance the safety and mobility of goods and people. Subject to the federal appropriations process, the BIL authorizes funding for the RCEP at up to $5.5 billion through FY 2026.

Counties, groups of counties and multijurisdictional groups of local governments are among the program’s eligible applicants and may apply for funding directly through USDOT by responding to the NOFO. Funds will be awarded by USDOT on a competitive basis to carry out eligible activities, including:

  • Grade separation or closure
  • Track relocation
  • Improvement or installation of protective devices
  • Planning, environmental review and design of an eligible project

Nearly 100 percent of at-grade crossings are located within county boundaries. Amplified by recent tragic events, including the loss of life as the result of a passenger train striking a heavy truck in an at-grade crossing, these dangerous intersections pose serious risks to drivers, pedestrians, rail passengers and freight. These crossings create the potential for underserved populations who may be cut off from vital services for hours at a time due to blocked crossings. Emergency response can be severely impacted, as well, with some counties providing first responder services on both sides of a crossing because of the time it takes for what may be a miles-long train to pass.

These intersections also hinder economic development, with some crossings blocked for hours each day, while simultaneously costing communities. According to a report from the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, “One analysis from the Nebraska Department of Transportation found that on average each grade crossing incident costs $805,675 – taking into account medical costs, property damage, congestion costs, and loss of productivity. Extrapolating this research nationally, it is estimated that highway-rail crossing incidents result in $1.7 billion worth of damages in 2019 – or more than $17 billion over the last decade.”

Unfortunately, not only do at-grade crossings cost counties money, they are also extremely expensive to remediate. The same Senate Commerce report found that, at-grade crossing projects to relocate the track or install a grade separation typically cost anywhere between $5 million and $40 million, with more complex projects reaching upwards of $100 million. To offset the immense costs associated with at-grade crossing elimination projects, counties strongly urge federal appropriators to provide the additional funding authorized by the BIL from the U.S. Treasury’s general fund, which would direct an additional $2.5 billion to this program over five years if fulfilled.

Billions are available now through competitive grant programs that counties can apply for directly through USDOT and other federal agencies covered in the BIL. To learn more about the RCEP and other BIL federal funding opportunities for county infrastructure, view NACo’s implementation and funding matrix page.

About Jessica Jennings (Full Bio)

Legislative Director – Transportation | Rural Action Caucus

Jessica serves as legislative director for transportation and infrastructure. In this role, Jessica staffs NACo’s Transportation Policy Steering Committee and works with county officials from across the nation to set organizational priorities and policies for transportation and infrastructure issues that affect local governments.

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