The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) recently voted to create two railroad inspector positions in the safety division to improve railroad safety.
There are currently six inspectors statewide, each with a designated practice. One of the new positions would cover track inspections and the other crossing inspections.
“In my visits to rural Arizona I had the opportunity to see the commission’s railroad safety division down at the border in Nogales and also learned of the dangerous Kearney railroad crossing problem,” Commissioner Andy Tobin said. “With only one commission staffer responsible for more than 3,000 miles of rail that cross our state, it became obvious we needed to more appropriately allocate resources and address current and long-term railroad safety needs. Thank you to the commission’s rail safety division for supporting this priority and my fellow commissioners who voted to make Arizona railroads safer.”
Commission Chairman Doug Little recently opened a docket to investigate crossing safety after a federal report identified five railroad crossings in the Phoenix metro area as some of the most dangerous in the country. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released data last month on railroad crossings with the most incidents in the country over the past decade; the first, second and fifth most dangerous are in Phoenix. Two others ranking third and 12th are in Glendale. No fatalities have occurred at these crossings.
FRA representatives met with commissioners, policy advisers, city and railroad representatives and the Arizona
Department of Transportation (ADOT). The ACC previously ordered upgrades at several of those crossings but the improvements have not yet been made.
“We need to understand what is preventing safety upgrades from getting completed and take immediate steps to streamline the process to ensure needed upgrades are made in a timely fashion,” Little said. “The meeting and the docket investigation are the first steps to coordinate our efforts with the railroads, federal, state and city government agencies responsible for these crossings. I am prepared to do everything in my power to ensure the safety of Arizona citizens.”