💰🚂 Biden’s $570M Solution to Railroad Crossings: Build It Up or Dig It Down?
TL:DR: Biden’s administration is laying down $570 million in grants to literally lay down bridges or underpasses at over 30 problematic railroad crossings across 32 states. These changes aim to reduce traffic delays, potentially life-threatening situations, and a reported 2,000 collisions per year. Is this the long-awaited solution to the rail-crossing menace? 🚧🚦🤔
As the rail industry gets longer and meaner with its cost-cutting monster trains, the Biden administration is switching tracks by investing a hefty $570 million in grants. The grand plan? Eliminate many of the troublesome railroad crossings plaguing 32 states across the nation.
You might be wondering, “Why is this a big deal?” 🤔 Well, imagine having a two-mile-long train playing hide and seek with your daily commute or blocking the path of emergency services during critical times. Not so fun, is it? 🚂🚑🚒
In the words of U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, “We see countless stories of people unable to get to work on time, goods being blocked from getting where they need to be, and first responders being delayed.” In one tragic case in Texas, a mother’s 911 call for her distressed 3-month-old baby was futile as an idle train delayed the ambulance, leading to the baby’s untimely death.
Just let that sink in. Isn’t it about time we shift gears? 🕰️⚙️
In addition to life-or-death situations, there’s the bitter truth of almost 2,000 collisions reported annually at these railroad crossings, leading to around 250 deaths last year. What a chilling statistic! One incident involved a woman in California who found herself stuck on the tracks due to backed-up traffic and was killed by an oncoming train.
Meanwhile, major freight railroads are playing the ‘long game’, relying on fewer, longer trains to save on crew and locomotive costs. But are they playing safe? They insist they are, but given recent high-profile derailments, regulators and Congress are keeping a keen eye on operations.
But let’s return to our $570 million question: what’s the plan with the grant money? 🤔💰 The grants will fund 63 projects focused on eliminating dangerous crossings and improving physical infrastructure. Projects range from the planning and design stage to actual construction, and include an ambitious $30 million project near the University of North Dakota campus.
Yet, this isn’t all rosy handouts; states and cities must bear at least 20% of the project cost, sometimes with the aid of railroads. A whopping $37 million will help erase four rail crossings in Houston (the city with the second-highest rail crossing deaths in the nation) and a $7.2 million grant will improve access to an area in Fostoria, Ohio, known as the Iron Triangle. This community endures a CSX train passing every 26 minutes, resulting in at least two hours of daily siren sounds.
So, with Biden’s administration on the right track, will these grants alleviate the railroad crossing issue? Or will it merely fuel more debates on the necessity and effectiveness of these infrastructural reforms?
So, to end on a thought-provoking note: Are we really addressing the root cause here, or merely placing a band-aid on a gaping wound? Are there more innovative solutions we could be exploring? Let’s discuss. 🚉🏗️💡👇