Statewide plan to fund grade separations at troublesome railroad crossings passes MI House

In Huron Township, blocked railroad crossings, like this one seen here at Sibley Road, are common occurrences. Crossings in Huron can sometimes be blocked for over an hour at a time, posing an obvious safety risk to the community. (Huron Hub file photo)


Posted by Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub| June 24, 2020

Relief is in sight for some of the area’s frequently blocked railroad crossings.

Today, House Bill 5861 passed, which is a bipartisan effort between State Reps. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown) and Jason Sheppard (R-Temperance).

The bill, according to Camilleri and Sheppard, helps solve some of Michigan’s most critical transportation issues by setting up a statewide fund within the Michigan Department of Transportation to build grade separations at the most troublesome rail crossings in the state.

Inspired by a successful program in Indiana, the program would allow municipalities to apply for state funding and would put up 20 percent of the cost while the state would supply the other 80 percent from the local grade separation fund for approved priority projects.

“Solving the issue at Allen Road in Woodhaven was a huge victory for our Downriver community, but the fact of the matter is there are so many other crossings like Allen Road across our region and our state, including issues in New Boston and Trenton,” said Camilleri, who helped negotiate the funding for the Allen Road underpass in Woodhaven. “By creating this statewide grade separation fund, we will make our communities safer, provide easier routes to schools and hospitals, and unlock economic opportunity for our region.”

Sheppard said Michigan highways have more than 4,000 rail crossings that increase traffic congestion, cause frustration for residents and delay first responders en route to emergencies. This program would pave the way for future projects to separate the crossings and improve the flow of traffic.

“This is about public safety,” Sheppard said. “Every second matters when police, fire and ambulance personnel are responding to an emergency. Lives are quite literally at risk when first responders get hung up by a train blocking the road on their way to a call. Rail grade separations improve public safety by routing the roadway over or under the rail line, eliminating delays.”

House Bill 5861 now advances to the Senate for further consideration.


 

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