Tester Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Assess 200,000 Highway-Railroad Crossing to Boost Safety & Efficiency

Senator’s legislation would pinpoint and address blocked railroad crossings across the U.S.

In his efforts to make Montana’s roads safer and more efficient, U.S. Senator Jon Tester recently introduced bipartisan legislation along with Senators Deb Fischer (R-Nebr.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) to identify and address instances of blocked railroad crossings by examining more than 200,000 crossings across the country.

“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,” said Tester. “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. That’s exactly what this bipartisan bill will do.”

In December 2019, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) opened a Blocked Crossing Incident Reporter portal that the public and law enforcement could report blocked grade crossings to the agency. Tester’s bill would authorize this portal as a three year pilot program, and the FRA would be required to analyze submissions to the portal based on key criteria and provide an analysis to Congress. By authorizing the blocked crossing portal and examining the results, Congress can better understand the scope and severity of blocked crossings and develop targeted, effective policy to address them.

The bill also requires the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to evaluate the requirements of the Section 130 railway-highway grade crossing program to identify any additional flexibilities in the program that could support states’ efforts to make grade crossings safer.

Tester and Fischer also recently introduced their Right Track Act, which is aimed at bolstering train safety in rural communities across the country by requiring the FRA and FHWA to make recommendations on improving rail safety in rural America, increase public outreach on grade crossing safety, and target resources for grade crossing safety in rural areas.