WASHINGTON, D.C. — Colorado is set to receive $700,000 in federal funding to improve the state's railway system.
The money is earmarked to reduce train crashes and blocked railroad crossings in Colorado, according to a news release from the Federal Railroad Administration.
The announcement comes after a Colorado woman was hit by a train last year while she was trapped inside a patrol car in Platteville.
Last year, there were reports of more than 2,000 collisions at railroad crossings across the U.S. and more than 30,000 reports of blocked railroad crossings submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration's public complaint portal.
"Every year, commuters, residents, and first responders lose valuable time waiting at blocked railroad crossings – and worse, those crossings are too often the site of collisions that could be prevented,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we’re improving rail crossings in communities across the country to save lives, time, and resources for American families.”
The $700,000 allocated to Colorado is part of a more than $570 million total initiative by the Federal Railroad Administration called the Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program. It will fund 63 projects overall in 32 states to improve safety and make it easier to get around railroad tracks, the agency said in a news release. 22 percent of all funding: $127.5 million was awarded to projects in rural areas or on tribal lands.
Colorado's piece of the pie will go toward conducting a feasibility study for the state to eliminate what are called two "at-grade crossings" on U.S. Route 34 along the border of Weld and Larimer Counties. They are railroad crossings with roads on the same level as the train tracks.
Transportation analysts consider this area a top opportunity for investment in the Colorado Freight Plan. With the potential elimination of two railroad crossings in this area, the hope is it would reduce risk of collision on U.S. Route 34, lower wait times for drivers that have been crossing the train tracks and improve supply chain fluidity.
The funding announced Monday is just the first installment toward eventual changes in Colorado's railway system. Over the next four years, the Federal Railroad Administration said in a news release, additional funding will be made available.
Funding for other projects that would improve freight rail safety and efficiency, strengthen supply chains and expand the passenger rail network will be announced later this year.