Congressmen Garcia and Schneider introduce rail drop funding bill – Streetsblog Chicago

Since Chicagoland is the nation’s rail hub, rail safety, congestion, and environmental impacts are major issues here. There may be some help along the way in terms of additional federal funding for the separation of ranks.

On Thursday, Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee representing parts of the Northwest and Southwest sides of Chicago and the Western Suburbs, and Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10), a member of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition representing an area predominantly made up of northern suburbs, presented the Construction of Required Rank Separations Act, 2021. According to lawmakers, the bill establishes a first-of-its-kind stand-alone program to provide federal funding for rail grade separations.

“Chicago has a large number of intersections where a freeway intersects a railroad track,” Garcia said in a statement. These level crossings endanger travelers, slow passenger and freight rail service and pollute working-class Latin American and black communities like mine, ”García, who lives in Little Village, said in a statement. . “This legislation will help make transformational investments in our infrastructure by separating level crossings, ensuring passenger safety and protecting residents from hazardous emissions. It’s time to bring about the change our communities have needed for decades.

“As one of the country’s main manufacturing districts and a major hub for Metra, the tenth district is riddled with level crossings,” Schneider said in a statement. “When a train blocks a route, it creates traffic safeguards, produces emissions and all too often delays our first responders on the way to life-threatening emergencies. It is essential that America consider removing these dilapidated and dangerous crossings by lowering more roads. I’m helping bring forward legislation with Congressman García to build more grade separations that make our communities safer, faster, and less congested.

Chuy Garcia and Brad Schneider.
Chuy Garcia and Brad Schneider.

According to members of Congress, there are 210,000 railway crossings in the United States where railroads and roads intersect. There were 1,901 level crossing collisions, killing 198 and injuring 688. There have been several recent fatalities on Chicago-area tracks, with deaths at Metra crossings becoming an increasingly urgent issue.

Representatives noted that in addition to preventing accidents, injuries and deaths, dividing crossings can also improve passenger and freight rail service by allowing higher speeds and more frequent service. They say that while there is currently a federal program to improve the safety of existing crossings, there is no stand-alone program to separate crossings.

Here’s what the Building Much Needed Grade Separations Act would do, according to Garcia and Schneider, on their own terms:

  • Authorizes $ 2.5 billion over five years for a competitive highway-rail grade separation program.
  • Establishes a 10% cost-sharing requirement for railways that benefit from grade separation.
  • Used to fund projects of more than $ 100 million under multi-year agreements under the investment grants program, just like public transit projects.
  • Allows railroad relocation projects to qualify as long as a rail-road crossing is eliminated as a result of the project.
  • Does not limit the amount of money a state can receive through the program.

The full text of the bill is available here.

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