Commission Approves First 10 Oklahoma Rail Crossing Projects in $100M Program
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK The Oklahoma Transportation Commission approves funding for 10 railroad crossing improvements, as the first part of a major program to upgrade crossing surfaces and signaling at 300 rail crossings across the state.
In the past, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (OKDOT) said it had about $8 million a year to devote to crossing projects, which allowed it to improve around 25 each year.
Now, though, the commission and OKDOT will target the crossings with $100 million in funding.
Much of that is from a 2014 OKDOT sale for $75 million of its Sooner Subdivision rail line to Stillwater Central Railroad, a Watco Cos. unit that was already leasing the Sooner Sub for freight operations between Sapulpa, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Gov. Mary Fallin and OKDOT announced their major grade crossings program at that time.
OKDOT said the $100 million for crossing improvements also includes dedicated rail safety funds from the department, plus contributions from local partner cities and counties.
Progressive Railroading said Oklahoma has more than 3,700 road-rail crossings. In 2014, it reported, 12 people were killed in crossing accidents and 21 others were injured.
The improvements include signage, active warning systems and audible alert devices to help prevent vehicle drivers from crossing tracks when a train is heading into the crossing.
"The upgrades will modernize and improve the visibility and safety of the rail crossings statewide," said OKDOT Executive Director Mike Patterson.
Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley called the program a statewide cooperative effort between the governor's office, multiple rail companies, local governments and state agencies all with the sole purpose of making our rail crossings safer. Progressive Railroading also said the department is working with rail companies and local governments to pick the locations for improvement projects.