Elimination of Highway Grade Crossings

May 13, 1935

Report Outline
Grade Separations on New Work Relief Program
Highway Crossings as a Menace to Public Safety
Progress in Abolition of Grade Crossing Hazards
Railroads' Responsibility for Crossing Elimination
Special Focus

Grade Separations on New Work Relief Program

Under A Program outlined by President Roosevelt April 12, about $200,000,000 of the $4,880,000,000 appropriated in the work-relief bill, approved April 5, will be devoted to the elimination of highway grade crossings throughout the United States. The program will be completed by July 1, 1936, the President said, and most of the funds will be spent in cities. Federal funds for this phase of the new work-relief program will be advanced to states and localities as direct grants, and no contributions will be asked of the railroads. The states and localities, however, will be charged with the responsibility of acquiring the necessary land for elimination projects, and in his statement the President emphasized the need for speed in such acquisition so that work may not be delayed by the necessity for instituting condemnation proceedings.

Grade crossing elimination, together with highway construction, probably will constitute the first part of the work-relief program to be undertaken. President Roosevelt said May 10 that the advisory allotment board at its meeting May 16 would make the first allotments under the new program and that these would be for grade crossing and highway projects. Money will be granted directly to those states having highway commissions or other agencies for undertaking grade crossing projects, but in other states the program will be placed under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Public Roads of the Department of Agriculture. Elimination projects will be confined to the main lines of railroads.

The President's initial announcement of the crossing elimination program followed by only a few hours a tragic grade crossing accident near Washington. Fourteen high school students were killed and 15 others injured on the night of April 11, when a school bus was struck by a Baltimore & Ohio train at an inadequately protected crossing in Rockville, Md. The crossing watchman had gone off duty at 10 p. m., half an hour before the accident occurred, and the crossing was protected only by a bell signal and a reflector. In his announcement the President said that there were far too many accidents of this kind in the country.

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