Louisiana awarded $1.1M federal rail safety grant - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Louisiana awarded $1.1M federal rail safety grant

(Source: WAFB) (Source: WAFB)
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

A new federal grant awarded to Louisiana will help improve more than a dozen rail crossings through a corridor of Baton Rouge.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced Wednesday a $1.1 million grant to increase rail safety at crossings along a six-mile route through North and Old South Baton Rouge. 

Of the 15 crossings along the route, the grant will help officials make upgrades, such as new crossing gates, updated medians and pavement markings, at the other nine more populated crossings like at Government Street and Terrace Ave. However, the grant will also help officials close six of the smaller ones like Smith and Apple streets that don't get a lot of activity.    

"It's not because the train is more important than the vehicle, but it's because the train can not stop," said Sarah Feinberg, administrator with FRA. "So the most important thing we can do is keep vehicles away from that.  So gates that come down that prevent vehicles from getting in front of the train, lights, signals that warn you that a train is coming, all of that is incredibly important to safety."

In the past 15 years, there have been 11 accidents, which resulted in four injuries, have happened along the corridor. According to officials, Louisiana ranked in the top five states for fatalities at railroad crossings in 2014 with 13 fatalities. Each day, an average of eight trains travel along the route. 

"None of these crossings are ideal and the fact that we can partner with this community to improve safety at these crossings will just make a huge difference," said Feinberg.
   
"Anytime you have a crossing where the rail and the road meet, there's always a potential for a collision so if you eliminate that, then you're eliminating that potential," said Claude Maher with Operation Lifesaver Louisiana. 

The following are the nine crossings that will be upgraded:

  • Main St.
    • Install railroad crossing gates where only flashers currently exist
    • Install median 
  • North St.
    • Install railroad crossing gates
  • Laurel St.
    • Install railroad crossing gates where only flashers currently exist
    • Install railroad pavement markings
  • Florida Blvd.
    • Install crossing gates 
    • Install median 
    • Install pavement markings
  • Convention St.
    • Install crossing gates 
    • Install median 
    • Install pavement markings
  • Government St.
    • Install crossing gates 
    • Install median 
    • Install pavement markings
  • Myrtle Walk.
    • Install crossing gates 
    • Install median 
    • Install pavement markings
  • Terrace Ave.
    • Install crossing gates 
    • Install median 
    • Install pavement markings
  • Louise St.
    • Install flashers and crossing gates
    • Extend and reroute existing crossing to accommodate sidewalk
    • Install pavement markings

The following are the six crossings that will be closed:

  • Wisteria St. 
  • South Blvd 
  • Julia Street 
  • Smith Street 
  • Orange Street 
  • Apple Street 

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