Should Congress track railway-highway blockings?

Awaiting Vote
Bill Summary

This bill establishes a pilot program for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to keep a database of when railway-highway crossings are blocked. This program aims to help determine where most blockings occur and provide essential information to emergency first responders. Sponsor: Sen. Deb Fischer (Republican, Nebraska) View full bill text ➔

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Opponents say

•     "But if you look at some of the factors, and we have the factors that cause train accidents, you find the human factor is number one. It accounts for some 35, almost 36 percent of train accidents….The second is track defects. I had a chance, when I was going to college, I worked 16 hours a day, 7 days a week on the rail to finance my college education, part of it, and I got to see some of what happens on the railroads firsthand. Track defects today are very difficult to detect just by some of the measures that we have...."

Source: Rep. John Mica (Republican, Florida, District 7)

•    "Nuss said rail crossings slow commerce by stopping trucks shipping goods and commuters traveling to and from work. He said trains pass through the town almost daily, delaying traffic even if the train does not stop. He expressed skepticism that the new website would fix any traffic delays caused by blocked rail crossings. 'It doesn't say they're going to fix anything, they're just going to listen to people complain," Nuss said."

Source: Jerry Nuss (Emmett, Michigan Fire Chief)

Proponents say

    "Many Kansans have experienced the frustration of waiting at a blocked railroad crossing, and in some cases, this interruption can be much more damaging than a delayed arrival home. Whether you are a first responder answering a call or a rancher transporting livestock, blocked railroad crossings can become costly or even hazardous barriers for road traffic. This legislation allows the Federal Railroad Administration to continue collecting important data on blocked railroad crossings to make certain our roads are safe and efficient for travel."

Source: Sen. Jerry Moran (Republican, Kansas) 

•    "There are more than 200,000 highway-railroad crossings across this country. When trains block these crossings, it can cause major inconveniences and even delay first responders. My legislation would ensure the collection of data on blocked crossings to help Congress develop policies that will make America’s roads safer and more convenient."

Source: Sen. Deb Fischer (Republican, Nebraska) 

    "We’ve got to do a better job ensuring that our highway-railroad crossings aren’t blocking critical routes for emergency responders or causing significant delays or traffic. In order to do that, Congress  needs better data on these blocked crossings so that we can make our highways safer, more efficient, and get people where they need to go a lot faster, and this bipartisan bill will do just that."

Source: Sen. Jon Tester (Democrat, Montana)