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Michigan Republican revives plan to eliminate waits at busy railroad crossings

Senator introduces bills to encourage the construction of railroad overpasses or underpasses
A Michigan senator wants to encourage construction of railroad overpasses and underpasses.
A Michigan senator wants to encourage construction of railroad overpasses and underpasses.((Source: KAIT-TV))
Published: May. 6, 2021 at 12:22 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - A plan to eliminate long waits at busy railroad crossings in Michigan is back before the State Legislature.

Republican State Sen. Dale Zorn of Ida in Monroe County reintroduced three bills that would create incentives for communities and railroads to build grade separations at busy crossings. Those involve building a bridge to carry vehicle traffic over or under the railroad.

Senate Bill 425 would create a new state program to provide matching funds for communities and railroads to build grade separations. Senate Bill 426 would establish a process for awarding funding and Senate Bill 427 would set up the fund in the Treasury Department.

Zorn pointed out that railroads are getting busier as more Michigan businesses opt to move their products by rail. That reduces heavy truck traffic on roadways, but leads to longer and more frequent stoppages for vehicles at railroad crossings.

He said that can affect response times for public safety agencies and limit access to small businesses.

“The goal of these measures is to help local governments and the railroad industry work together to solve these long-standing safety and economic issues,” Zorn said.

The latest figures from the Federal Railroad Administration show that Michigan ranked 15th worst in 2020 for collisions, injuries and deaths at railroad crossings.

“Even before the pandemic, many local agencies could not afford to make these railroad crossing improvements,” Zorn said. “This new program would help them improve driver safety by eliminating the chance of a deadly train-vehicle collision at the new separated crossings.”

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