About 300 railroad crossings like this one will be improved with safety devices thanks to a $100 million initiative by ODOT
$100 Million Plan Improves Railroad Crossing Safety Statewide
About 300 Oklahoma highways, city streets and county roads intersecting with railroad tracks are about to become safer thanks to a $100 million investment by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. These projects can include improved signage and active warning systems such as flashing lights, gates that will lower to help prevent traffic from entering the crossing and also audible alert devices. This first-of-its-kind Rail Crossings Safety Initiative was announced in 2014 by Gov. Mary Fallin and ODOT.
What You Need to Know
- The first 10 projects on the candidate list received approval Monday, Oct. 12, from the Oklahoma Transportation Commission. Projects are located in Lincoln, Oklahoma, Garfield, Tillman, Jackson, Custer, Blaine, Tulsa and Creek counties. Click here to see the commission agenda.
- During the next several months, finalized agreements are expected to be brought before the Oklahoma Transportation Commission. Once approved, railroad companies will be able to apply to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for approval of the specific improvements.
- Crossing improvements typically can cost an average or $350,000 per site.
- Locations were chosen based on several factors including average daily traffic counts on the roadway and rail track, accident data, condition of the crossing and regional needs.
- More than $100 million is expected to be spent in three years on this unprecedented program. Proceeds from the sale of the Sooner Sub rail line in 2014 will be added to dedicated rail safety funds from ODOT and other partners.
- Previously, ODOT had only about $8 million a year in rail safety program funds to spend, which improved about 25 crossings per year.
- There are more than 3,700 at-grade rail crossings in Oklahoma.
- Rail safety is a critical component of ODOT's mission. The state ranks 20th nationally in highway-rail grade crossing collisions, according to Operation Lifesaver Inc. Twelve people were killed and 21 were injured in accidents at Oklahoma rail crossings in 2014, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. The department seeks with this initiative to improve crossing safety to save more lives.