The Birmingham Times
The City of Birmingham has been awarded $8 million to reduce dangerous blocked railroad crossings, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) announced on Monday.
Sewell said a total of $23.8 million for Alabama including $15.8 million to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will improve rail infrastructure and safety in Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.
“Today marks a major step forward in our fight against blocked railroad crossings in Alabama’s 7th Congressional District,” Sewell said. “This funding …. represents a critical part of our long-term strategy to alleviate blocked railroad crossings and will go a long way in improving the quality of life for those living in and around Birmingham.”
City Councilor Darrell O’Quinn said the funding is “an opportunity to drastically improve the quality of life for so many of my neighbors.”
O’Quinn said Norfolk Southern, who owns the rail corridor in question, has been a tremendous partner in moving the initiative forward and will be committing $1.5 million to the initial planning and engineering grant.
“It’s the largest financial commitment they’ve made to a project of this type,” O’Quinn said. “My office has remained in close contact with their representatives over the last several years and we could not have gotten to this point without their dedication to improve the lives of those living near their tracks.”
In Birmingham, the $8 million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant will target two segments of Norfolk Southern’s railway line and will help develop plans for various track, bridge, signal and road realignments.
That will reduce blocked crossings and improve community safety and access to schools and residential areas, including the roads leading in and out of Harris Homes. This will include grade separations and the closure of multiple crossings and will also have a positive impact on the freight and passenger rail operations in the city.
Sewell said she was the only member of Alabama’s Congressional Delegation to vote in favor of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“Securing this funding was truly a team effort, and I want to thank the City of Birmingham and our local leaders for their hard work in developing such a strong proposal and Norfolk Southern for their significant financial commitment to this project. I was so proud to advocate for this funding at the federal level and will continue working with our state and local partners to address blocked railroad crossings.”
She added, “I want to thank the Alabama Department of Transportation for their work putting together this proposal. We know that the Black Belt is in dire need of infrastructure investments and this project will make a big difference.”
In the Black Belt, the $15.8 million CRISI grant will go to ALDOT for final design and construction activities to complete various track-related and bridge improvements on two short-line rail lines within the state, the Eastern Alabama Railway (EARY) and Meridian & Bigbee Railroad (MNBR). The project will improve system and service performance by increasing maximum allowable speeds on both rail corridors, enhancing storage capacity, and improving safety.
Find more information on the CRISI grant awards here.