Federal agency launches webpage to report blocked crossings: Railway Age

A photograph of railcars passing through a railroad crossing. A railroad crossing sign is in front of the railcars and is signaling that the intersection can't be crossed by vehicular traffic.

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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has launched a new webpage for the public and law enforcement to report blocked highway-rail grade crossings.

The new FRA Blocked Crossings webpage requests specific information from users reporting blocked crossings — including date, time, location and duration. The agency expects it will take an average of three minutes for users to complete the report. FRA notes that this should only be done in a manner that is consistent with the safe operation of their vehicle.

FRA will use the information collected to gain a more complete picture of where, when and how long such obstructions occur at the nation’s approximately 130,000 public grade crossings, and what impacts result. FRA will share the information with stakeholders, using it to help facilitate local solutions to blocked-crossing issues.

Blocked crossings occur when stopped trains impede the flow of motor vehicle or pedestrian traffic at railroad tracks for extended periods of time. FRA is seeking broad public input on this long-standing issue to better understand the scope of the problem and engage with affected parties to identify potential solutions.

Blocked crossings pose safety risks, specifically in locations where they occur routinely. Frustrated drivers may attempt to clear the crossing before a train arrives. Likewise, pedestrians may be tempted to crawl between stopped railcars. Further, blocked crossings make people late for work, school and appointments, and contribute to roadway congestion.

“Railroads, states and local jurisdictions are best positioned to address blocked highway-rail grade crossings, and I’ve asked them to work together to minimize unwanted impacts,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said. “FRA expects that collecting this data will help us identify where chronic problems exist and better assess the underlying causes and overall impacts of blocked crossings — locally, regionally and nationwide.”

“Our ability to address this issue is only as effective as the data we collect,” Batory added. “Therefore, we are hoping to engage citizens and all levels of government to help spread the word about this important tool.”