Senators propose more funding for grade-crossing safety

AP News
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Posted: Feb 15, 2015 1:28 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — The government should spend more money safeguarding railroad crossings that are "accidents waiting to happen," two U.S. senators said Sunday.

Sens. Charles Schumer and Richard Blumenthal spoke at New York's Grand Central Terminal, the departing point for the Metro-North train that crashed into a car earlier this month in Valhalla, north of the city. The car's driver died, as did five train passengers.

Although the cause of the collision has not been determined, the lawmakers noted that more than 200 people died in grade-crossing accidents in 2013. They plan to introduce a bill later this month to fund engineering and safety upgrades at thousands of rail crossings across the country.

Blumenthal, D-Conn., said that on average, there's an accident every three hours at rail intersections that still rely on outdated signal and warning systems.

Schumer, D-N.Y., said more must be done.

"Many of New York's hundreds of rail-grade crossings are truly accidents waiting to happen, and it's critical that the federal government do more to make engineering upgrades at accident-prone crossings," he said.

The senators said that if the bill is enacted, funds would go to the Federal Railroad Administration and to states and localities for new lights and signals as well as education materials.