Louisiana Senate committee passes railroad-crossing safety bills

| 4/9/2002

The Louisiana Senate's Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works passed two bills (SB51 and SB52) that could force railroad companies to make crossings safer for motorists and pedestrians.

SB51 would require maintenance of railroad crossing areas, including keeping the area free of vegetation that may obstruct the view of drivers and pedestrians. The bill extends the railroad companies' responsibility to 500 feet in all directions, "or the maximum extent of the railroad's right of way, whichever is less."

The proposed law provides that after a 30-day written notice, the appropriate local governing authority may perform the necessary maintenance and charge the railroad for the expenses. Additionally, the bill could subject the railroad to a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 for each violation.

SB52 requires railroad companies to install traffic control devices at public railroad crossings located within one-half mile of any elementary or secondary school. Although the proposed law allows the use of federal funds, if available, to defray costs, the bill requires the railroad companies to pay 100 percent of the installation costs at crossings if no federal funds are available.