(The Center Square) — The federal government is sending more than $3.2 million to help close railroad grade crossings in Georgia.
The money is part of more than $570 million in funds from the Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program for projects addressing hundreds of grade crossings in 32 states.
“The safest, best crossing is no crossing at all,” Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ian Jefferies said in an announcement. “The projects selected for this initial round of investment will advance safety and reduce traffic delays, while also keeping goods moving across the nation. Everyone wins through this type of smart infrastructure investment, and railroads are proud to support this transformational program.”
Last month, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Georgia, urged federal railroad authorities to take blocked railroad crossings more seriously. In response, an FRA spokesman pointed to the millions of federal tax dollars for the grade crossing elimination program.
In the latest tranche of federal dollars for local communities, the Federal Railroad Administration awarded more than $1.8 million to Chatham County to eliminate 11 CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway grade crossings, allowing longer trains to enter port facilities in Garden City, Port Wentworth and Savannah. The Georgia Ports Authority will chip in a 60% match.
The agency also awarded $460,460 to DeKalb County for a grade separation project at the Constitution Road crossing on Norfolk Southern’s Atlanta Terminal subdivision, and DeKalb County is giving a 20% match. It also announced $888,000 to Gwinnett County to conduct a feasibility study on three CSX crossings, and Gwinnett County will give a 20% match.
In a news release, Mike McClellan, senior vice president and chief strategy officer for Atlanta-based Norfolk Southern, said the grants “will have a positive, lasting impact on the safety of our employees and the communities we serve for years to come.”
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor