Following a series of train accidents across Montana in the last year—including a fatal crash in Bainville in May—U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced their bipartisan Right Track Act to bolster train safety in Eastern Montana and other rural communities.

The Right Track Act contains three main components:

  • It will help counties and states better target safety infrastructure investments by requiring the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to provide recommendations to public and private stakeholders to reduce the number of highway-rail collisions at public at-grade crossings in counties with a population of 10 or fewer people per square mile.
  • It will increase public safety awareness by requiring the FRA and FHWA to conduct a public outreach and educational initiative to reduce collisions at grade crossings in rural counties.
  • And it will provide a dedicated pool of funding for rural crossings by increasing the authorization for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program by $10 million per year for five years, and before any funds are distributed, that funding is set-aside for grants to improve grade crossing safety in rural counties. This funding can be used to install gates, add bells and lights, and creating overpasses at train crossings.

 

Tester said the bill provide rural communities with the resources they need to stay safe. “My bipartisan Right Track Act will provide towns across our state with critical investments to improve safety infrastructure and educate the public about the risk of collisions at grade crossings. The fact is, we can’t let rural America get left behind when it comes to rail safety, and I’m going to work aggressively to get this bill passed as soon as possible.”

Joining in with Tester’s statement, Deb Fisher (R-NE) said, “Rail transportation is critical to keeping America’s businesses and communities running, but more can be done to improve rural grade crossing safety,” She added, “This legislation will enable the FRA and FHWA to make recommendations, facilitate public outreach, and target resources to keep our Heartland safe.”

Two of the top three industry’s in Montana, including agriculture, rely on rail transportation to deliver their commodities.

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U.S. Senator Jon Tester

Northern Ag Network – 2020

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