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Year after deadly Amtrak crash, Missouri set to announce railroad-crossing safety plan

Amtrak southwest chief derail mendon missouri 2
Posted at 3:38 PM, Aug 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-01 17:29:34-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Director of Missouri Department of Transportation Patrick McKenna plan to release a new railroad safety crossing plan Thursday in Jefferson City.

They’ll be joined by National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy and Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose, according to a news release, for the unveiling of the new Missouri Railroad Safety Crossing Plan.

The plan follows a June 2022 incident in which an Amtrak passenger train derailed after hitting a dump truck in Mendon, Missouri. Four people, including the driver of the truck, died in the crash and dozens more were injured.

Amtrak and BNSF Railway estimated their damages from the crash at around $4 million, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB.

RELATED | Complete coverage of Amtrak crash in Mendon

In response to the Mendon train derailment, 47 passive public rail crossings on Missouri's three passenger rail lines are being prioritized for improvements.

Passive railroad crossings have signs but do not have flashing lights, gates or additional safety enhancements.

Parson recently signed House Bill 4, which included $50 million from the state’s General Revenue Fund for the MoDOT to improve railroad-crossing safety, an investment the department called historic.

In total, MoDOT received roughly $83.5 million in the state budget for Fiscal Year 2024, which started July 1, 2023, to improve railroad-crossing safety through a combination of dedicated taxes, the General Fund allocation and federal dollars.

The bulk of that money comes from the one-time $50 million allocation, but it's a massive spending increase compared to the typical $7.5 million Missouri has allocated in recent years for such projects.

State officials also plan to share the results of an independent review of the three Missouri rail corridors, provide information on an “advance signing program” for communities, and have a moment of silence to honor the victims from the Mendon train derailment.

The announcement and ceremony Thursday come as the NTSB prepares to release its final report on the Mendon train derailment.