Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Gov. Holcomb comes to town to unveil state matches for RR safety

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By LILY REX

Gov. Eric Holcomb visited Chesterton on Monday to announce the launch of Local Trax--the newest state matching program for transportation improvements, specifically for railroad crossings.

Similar to the Community Crossing grant program, Local Trax is a partnership between the State of Indiana, the Indiana Department of Transportation, and Norfolk Southern that will provide matching funds to municipalities that make improvements to railroad crossings. While Community Crossing is a 50-50 match, projects selected for Local Trax will be 80 percent funded by the state and 20 percent by the communities that propose them.

“This is an 80-20 match,” Holcomb said. “I call that a good deal.”

“This is all about decreasing congestion and increasing safety,” he added.

The main focus of the program is improvements to at-grade railroad crossings--crossings at street level that interrupt traffic. Indiana has more than 5,000 of such crossings, and locations where a crossing causes severe congestion or frequent collisions will be high priority for receiving funds for a number of safety enhancements and grade separation projects.

Grade separation projects limit interaction between motorists and trains through the construction of overpasses, underpasses, and bridges. Assistant Vice-President of Government Affairs for Norfolk Southern Darrell Wilson said, “The safest grade crossing is no grade crossing at all.”

Town Council Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, did say that Chesterton isn’t in the market for a bridge. DeLaney reported that the town has entertained the idea of a grade separation at the Dickinson Road crossing in recent years and found the project to be cost prohibitive at $12 million. “What we might be looking at are the extra safety features,” he added.

INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuiness said the program could help communities that aren’t in the market for grade separations fund safety enhancements such as flashing red indicators and automatic stop bars to reduce the risk of accidents at crossings. He noted that some crossings in Indiana have only a stop sign alerting drivers to pause and check for an oncoming train.

The application for Local Trax will go live May 1 and communities have until Aug. 31 to submit proposals. Large and small communities and counties are eligible to apply. $125 million in funding will be available.

 

Posted 4/3/2018

 
 
 
 

 

 

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