U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on July 21 said that work can begin on closing the last three highway-rail grade crossings on the Keystone Corridor with the signing of $24.3 million in grant agreements between the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Eliminating the grade crossings, areas where a highway and a railroad cross at the same level, will improve safety and allow future train speeds to increase from 110 mph to 125 mph.
“We are committed to the President’s vision of a world-class rail network providing fast, efficient and affordable service,” said LaHood. “Closing these highway-rail grade crossings will allow travelers along the heavily-used Keystone Corridor to enjoy a reduction in their trip time with future train speeds boosted to 125-mph.”
The Keystone Corridor operates between New York, Philadelphia and Harrisburg and is Amtrak’s fourth most heavily traveled route. Since train speeds along the route were increased to 110 mph in 2006, ridership has grown by more than 37 percent to 1,227,075 passengers in 2010. The grants announced today will eliminate grade crossings in Mount Joy Borough, Rapho Township and Leacock Township, all in Lancaster County, PA. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Amtrak will also contribute a combined $3.4 million for this project.
“Closing highway-rail grade crossings eliminates potential accidents,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “We must keep safety at the forefront in the high-speed and intercity passenger rail program.”
Funding also includes engineering and environmental work for the redesign of track crossings and improvements to train control signal systems.
A strict “Buy America” requirement for high-speed rail projects ensures that U.S. manufacturers and workers will receive the maximum economic benefits from this federal investment. In 2009, Secretary LaHood secured a commitment from 30 foreign and domestic rail manufacturers to employ American workers and locate or expand their base of operations in the U.S. if they are selected for high-speed-rail contracts.