A new Transportation Department grant program created under the infrastructure law is aiming to improve safety at the nation’s rail crossings, sending $570 million this year to 32 states to upgrade more than 400 locations. The projects will construct overpasses and pay for track relocations and pedestrian and vehicular improvements where train tracks and roads intersect.
The investments come as rail safety remains a focus after the Feb. 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio. The incident, which prompted state and federal investigations, shed light on the effects trains have on communities, including extended blocking of intersections. Residents have called for changes as they report that trains are disrupting traffic, causing seniors to miss doctor’s appointments and forcing children to crawl under them to get to school.