US offers $10M for upgrades to highway-rail crossings as deaths, flammable shipments increase

IndustriesAssociated Press

U.S. transportation officials will offer $10 million in grants for states to upgrade highway-rail crossings and tracks in response to a recent surge in flammable fuel shipments.

Wednesday's planned announcement from the Department of Transportation comes as rail crossing collisions have increased over the past several years, following more than three decades of steady declines.

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There were more than 2,200 collisions in 2014, killing 269 people and injuring 849.

Almost 40 percent of the fatalities occurred in just five states — California, Illinois, Texas, Alabama and Louisiana.

Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg says most rail crossing deaths are preventable.

The grants would pay for improvements along rail routes that transport flammable fuels. Shipments of crude oil and ethanol increased dramatically over the past decade before energy prices plummeted.