Zorn bill seeks to improve safety at railroad crossings

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has introduced legislation to create a program aimed at enhancing safety and traffic flow at rail crossings.

“The goal is to help the state and local communities resolve long-standing congestion issues at railroad crossings and improve the safety of Michigan drivers by reducing — and eventually eliminating — the chance of a collision with a train,” said Zorn, R-Ida.

Senate Bill 364 would create a new Local Grade Separation Grant Program to provide state matching funds for local governments and the rail industry interested in pursuing high-priority railroad grade separations on local roads. The funds would be used to transform a crossing so that road traffic would travel either over or under the railroad.

“As the rail industry becomes more efficient and trains increase in length, they will block crossings for longer periods of time,” Zorn said. “This is bad for first responders for whom time is critical, manufacturers whose workers or trucks are delayed, and local businesses who lose customers as drivers take different routes to avoid a blocked crossing.”

According to the Michigan Railroads Association, Michigan ranks 15th worst in the nation for the number of collisions, injuries, and fatalities at highway-rail crossings.

“My bill is modeled after a program in Indiana and will create partnerships between the state, local governments and the industry to address this growing infrastructure problem,” Zorn said.

SB 364 has been referred to the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for consideration.