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Five Indiana railroad crossing projects receive $21M in federal grants

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(The Center Square) – Indiana is set to receive more than $21 million in federal funding to reduce the risk of vehicular collisions with trains and blocked roadways due to stalled trains.

The money comes from the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program. Earlier this week, the agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation announced projects in 32 states would receive funding. The program is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the first round of allocations totaled more than $570 million, which would help address more than 400 street-level railroad crossings.

“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, a former mayor of South Bend.

More than 2,000 collisions took place at railroad crossings last year, according to the FRA release, and the administration’s complaint portal received more than 30,000 complaints about trains blocking roadways.

Five Indiana projects received grants. The biggest award was to the town of Schererville in the state’s northwestern corner. Federal officials pledged up to $8.5 million to design and construct a grade separation. More than 30 trains use the crossing every day, and the town, along with Norfolk Southern and Canadian National Railway, has pledged to provide a 30% match to the project.

Two other northwestern Indiana projects were also awarded millions.

Hammond will receive more than $7 million to do away with at-grade crossings on two streets and build an overpass with a new road. The Norfolk Southern railroad has 53 crossings daily.

That project also received $2.6 million in Federal Highway Administration funding, and the federal money will be paired with a 26% match coming from the city, state and Norfolk Southern.

Gary is slated to get $4.5 million for a project that would remove eight crossings as part of the Buffington Harbor Gateway Project. It will eliminate more than 130 crossings daily.

The FHA has also awarded $9.6 million for the project, and the city and the Indiana Department of Transportation will provide a 49% match to the federal funds.

In northeastern Indiana, Wells County will receive a $1.1 million FRA grant to go with $4.1 million in federal highway funds that will be used to acquire right-of-way as well as help with design and construction on work that will eliminate three crossings. The county, state and Norfolk Southern will contribute an 87% match.

Peru, a city about 70 miles north of Indianapolis, will get $76,000 to help with a planning project to study the traffic impact of eliminating one or more crossings from an area with six such intersections and a road underpass. The area is near a railyard where crew transfers lead to “frequent” road traffic delays.

According to the Association of American Railroads, the federal investment will help further a movement that’s reduced the number of at-grade crossings by 10% since 2005.

“The safest, best crossing is no crossing at all,” said AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies. “Everyone wins through this type of smart infrastructure investment, and railroads are proud to support this transformational program.”

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