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Grants sought for rail safety

Published (2/18/2010)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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The state could improve its railways by grants offered through the Federal Railroad Safety Enhancement Act of 2008.

Rep. Mike Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park) sponsors HF1467 that would direct the Department of Transportation to apply for grants, when available, by soliciting and prioritizing requests from eligible railroads for installation of switch indicator signals where posted speeds are greater than 20 mph.

Approved by the House Finance Committee Feb. 15, the bill awaits action by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Minnesota has 1,200 miles of non-signaled track in 40-50 mph zones, and this bill would enhance rail safety, Phillip Qualy, state legislative director for the United Transportation Union, told the committee in 2009.

Participating railroads would be required to provide the 20 percent nonfederal match; provide the commissioner with technical documentation; and install the rail safety technology.

The bill was included in last years omnibus transportation policy bill that was vetoed by the governor.

A companion, SF1674, sponsored by Sen. Ken Kelash (DFL-Mpls), awaits action in the Senate Finance Committee.

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