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Safety improvements at highway-railroad grade crossings approved by Iowa Transportation Commission

MASON CITY – Safety improvements at highway-railroad grade crossings were approved by the Iowa Transportation Commission today. The improvements include the addition of signals with gate arms at 27 crossings and circuitry upgrades at five crossings. Funds were also approved to assist in crossing closures. Engineering and planning for these improvements will take place over the next year with installation planned in 2015. A list of the safety improvements may be found at www.iowadot.gov/iowarail.

The Highway-Railroad Crossing Safety Program provides 90 percent of the cost of the safety improvement, with the remaining 10 percent paid by the party responsible for the highway (normally a city or county), the railroad or a portion paid by each. Funding for the program comes from the Federal Highway-Railroad Crossing Program.

Projects are prioritized using a benefit/cost analysis. The analysis considers vehicle traffic, number and speed of trains, and crossing characteristics, as well as cost and anticipated effectiveness of the proposed improvement. The available funding only allows a limited number of safety improvements each year.

“Applications for safety improvements at crossings with a high probability for a serious crash and that propose an effective, cost-efficient improvement get the highest priority,” said Jim Gibson program manager in the Iowa DOT’s Office of Rail Transportation. “Any safety improvement we can make will help accomplish the state’s goal of zero fatalities on our transportation system.”

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