Federal grant seeks to improve New York rail crossings

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Over the last three years, railroad crossing fatalities have increased 16 percent nationally. And New York has experienced some of the worst grade-crossing accidents in its history.

In an effort to enhance road safety, Rep. Nita Lowey and other state officials presented a more than $5 million grant given from the Federal Railroad Administration to improve rail grade crossings throughout the state. The money is a part of the consolidated rail infrastructure and safety improvement grants.

The money will be used to add highway traffic signals to seven crossings on the Metro-North as well as updating certain rail crossings to mitigate hazardous conditions between highway and rail traffic. Cameras will be installed to record crossing movement to better help analyze operations for future improvements.

MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said that safety is the MTA's top priority. He said these steps will help drivers be aware of their surroundings and what they should do at these crossings.

The Federal Railroad Administration has been working with navigation systems such as Garmin, Google Maps and Waze to incorporate something into the system that will alert drivers of the railroad crossings, according to Administrator Sarah Feinberg. Officials hope that by doing this will make the roadway safer for drivers, especially those unfamiliar with the area. Many of the revitalizing projects are already underway.