Ensuring safety on Missouri’s vast railroad system is a primary function of the Multimodal Operations Division-Railroad Section. Railroad staff administers a highway-rail grade crossing safety improvement program; employs rail safety inspectors to oversee railroads’ compliance with state and federal safety regulations; and conducts railroad safety education and outreach.
Missouri Highway-Rail Crossing Safety Program
Missouri’s Highway-Railroad Crossing Safety Program aims to improve highway-rail grade crossings throughout the state. The program is funded by a combination of federal and state funds. The FHWA Section 130 Program is a federal aid program authorized by United States Code Title 23, Section 130, and administered through the state by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The state Grade Crossing Safety Account is funded by a 25 cent assessment on all Missouri motor vehicle registrations or renewals authorized by Section 389.612, RSMO.
Annually, Missouri receives $6 million in Section 130 funds and another $1.2 million per year through the state’s Grade Crossing Safety Account. These funds can only be spent on improvements at public crossings for safety devices like flashing lights, gates or warning bells; pavement markings; or the closure of a crossing. Each year, every public crossing is reviewed taking into account factors like train and vehicle traffic counts, train and vehicle speed, sight distance and accident history to select crossings for improvements.
Facts about public at-grade highway rail crossings in Missouri:
Number: approximately 3,200
Percentage equipped with an active warning device: 53%
Average cost for a safety improvement project: $260,000
Average number of projects per year: 25-30 projects (at current funding level)
Rail Safety Inspection Program
MoDOT’s Rail Section employs five railroad safety inspectors. They are responsible for ascertaining compliance with state and federal railroad laws, regulations, rules and standards in the disciplines of Track, Operating Practices and Grade Crossing Signals. An inspector reports findings and seeks correction of unsafe conditions following a routine inspection or the investigation of public complaints or railroad incidents such as derailments, collisions and public highway-rail crossing fatalities. An inspector has authority to enforce safe working conditions for railroad employees. Inspectors also govern clearances in the vicinity of railroad tracks and along railroad rights of way and can help grant variances if deemed reasonable and safe.
Report a railroad safety concern to MoDOT’s Railroad Section by phone: 573-526-2169 or click on this “Report a Road Repair” link. When filling in the online form, be sure to write “railroad crossing” in the “other” box.
Railroad Safety Outreach
MoDOT’s Rail Section staff provides presentations on Railroad Grade Crossing safety issues to community groups, schools, commercial drivers, driver education classes and other interested parties. This program is presented in conjunction with Missouri Operation Lifesaver, Inc., a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to saving lives and preventing incidents at crossings and on railroad property. To schedule an Operation Lifesaver presentation, contact MoDOT at 573-526-2169 or Missouri Operation Lifesaver at 573-694-6412 or online at www.oli.org.