Chao announces plans to enhance safety at highway-rail grade crossings

Dec. 4, 2019

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao recently announced significant plans to advance highway-rail grade crossing safety.

Underscoring the U.S. DOT's commitment to addressing the challenge of rail crossing safety, Secretary Chao announced the publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to improve safety at public highway-rail grade crossings nationwide. The proposed rule would require all states and the District of Columbia to develop and implement a new or updated highway-rail grade crossing action plan no later than one year after the effective date of the final rule.  

“The department is committed to supporting infrastructure improvements, new communications tools, and working to change driver behavior so that highway-rail grade crossings are safe environments for all transportation users,” Secretary Chao said in a statement.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will review states’ action plans for sufficiency and, upon approval, FRA will publish the plans on the internet. These action plans will enable states to prioritize infrastructure and equipment investments at railway crossings using a variety of resources, including Federal formula funds and grants.

Secretary Chao also announced that the Highway-Rail Crossing Handbook has been updated and revamped for the first time in over 10 years. This resource for constructing and maintaining safer highway-rail grade crossings offers guidance for best practices and new standards to improve safety at the nation’s 130,000 public rail and road junctures. The third edition of the handbook provides important information on highway-rail crossings and characteristics of the crossing environment and users.