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"Along with freeway traffic volumes, the number of rail cars moving through Houston is expected to grow over time, leading to more pressure to untie some critical spots where railroad tracks and roads intersect," reports Dug Begley.
"The solution is to build overpasses or underpasses in as many places as possible. Eliminate the at-grade crossing and automobile traffic keeps moving while trains can move more efficiently," explains Begley, but the high cost of those projects makes it difficult. One potential source of money, notes Begley, is the federal government, which is "focusing on highway and rail crossings that experience a high volume of rail cars carrying energy products like crude oil and ethanol."
There is another safety concern as well: "Collisions at highway crossings are the second most common cause of deaths along tracks, behind trespasser fatalities that occur mostly when people walk along the tracks and are struck by a train. Last year, 269 people were killed in crossing collisions, the first time in a decade the number of fatalities increased."