Fischer’s bipartisan bill aims to keep highway-rail crossings clear

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) on Nov. 18 unveiled a bipartisan bill to require the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Highway Administration to provide recommendations for reducing the number of trains blocking highway-rail grade crossings. 

“My legislation would ensure the collection of data on blocked crossings to help Congress develop policies that will make America’s roads safer and more convenient,” said Sen. Fischer, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety. 

S. 4913, which Sen. Fischer is cosponsoring with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), also would authorize a public outreach and educational program to reduce such collisions and would authorize grants to improve grade crossing safety, according to the congressional record bill summary.

“There are more than 200,000 highway-railroad crossings across this country,” said Sen. Fischer. “When trains block these crossings, it can cause major inconveniences and even delay first responders.” 

“We’ve got to do a better job ensuring that our highway-railroad crossings aren’t blocking critical routes for emergency responders or causing significant delays or traffic,” added Sen. Tester.

If enacted, S. 4913 would authorize the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Blocked Crossing Incident Reporter as a three-year pilot program to ensure continued data collection. The FRA also would be required to analyze submissions to the portal based on key criteria and provide an analysis to Congress, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Fischer’s office.

The bill also would require the Federal Highway Administration to evaluate the requirements of the Section 130 railway-highway grade crossing program to identify ways the program could support states’ efforts to make grade crossings safer, the summary says.