García, Schneider Introduce Legislation to Help Fund Rail Grade Separations

October 28, 2021
Press Release

García, Schneider Introduce Legislation to Help Fund Rail Grade Separations

The Legislation Establishes a Standalone Program to Provide

Federal Funding for Rail Grade Separations. 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10), member of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, introduced the Building Much Needed Grade Separations Act of 2021. This legislation establishes a first of its kind stand-alone program to provide federal funding for rail grade separations.

“As the freight and passenger rail hub of the United States, Chicago has a high number of intersections where a highway crosses a railroad. These grade crossings endanger travelers, slow down passenger and freight rail service, and pollute working class Latino and Black communities like mine,” said Congressman García. “This legislation will help bring transformational investments in our infrastructure by separating rail crossings, keeping travelers safer, and protecting residents from hazardous emissions. It’s time to bring the change our communities have been needing for decades.”

"As one of the top manufacturing districts in the country and a major Metra hub, the Tenth District is riddled with railroad crossings. When a train blocks a roadway, it creates traffic backups, produces emissions, and too often holds up our first responders on their way to life-and-death emergencies. It is essential that America plans to remove these antiquated, dangerous crossings by lowering more roads. I'm helping introduce legislation with Congressman García to build more grade separations that make our communities safer, faster, and less-congested. It's a piece of critical infrastructure investment that rail-heavy communities like ours have been crying out for for decades," said Congressman Schneider.

There are more than 210,000 rail crossings in the United States where a train and motor vehicles cross each other. Unfortunately, these crossings have been the site of numerous fatalities and injuries over the years, with 1,901 collisions at grade crossings in 2020 alone that resulted in 198 fatalities and 688 injuries.

In addition to preventing accidents, injuries, and fatalities, separating rail crossings can also improve passenger and freight rail service by allowing for higher speeds and more frequent service.

While there is currently a federal program to improve the safety of existing rail grade crossings, there is no standalone program for separating rail grade crossings.

The Building Much Needed Grade Separations Act :

  • Authorizes $2.5 billion over five years for a competitive highway-rail grade separation program.
  • Establishes a 10% cost share requirement for railroads that benefit from the grade separation.
  • Allows projects over $100 million to be funded through multi-year agreements, similar to how transit projects are funded through the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program.
  • Allows rail relocation projects to qualify as long as a highway-rail crossing is eliminated as a result of the project.
  • Does not limit the amount of money one state can receive through the program. 

The full text of the bill can be found here.


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