Legislative News Briefs

ARIZONA -- After serving as Chairman of the Arizona State Legislative Board for 16 years, Don Bergman chose not to seek re-election. Robert S. Svob Jr., is the newly elected Chairman. However, Brother Bergman will continue to serve the BLE on the issues of fatigue and work/rest cycles.

CALIFORNIA -- Tim Smith, SLBC-CA, reports that Governor Gray Davis has proposed a $5.3 billion, one-time funding campaign to ease transportation congestion. Nearly $3 billion will be used for items related to intercity rail or rail transit.

GEORGIA -- Raymond Taylor, SLBC-GA, reports that Georgia is taking steps to make passenger rail an increasingly important part of its transportation future. The state legislature approved $250,000 to study a connection between Atlanta Airport and the Atlanta-Macon rail line. The legislature also provided $1.2 million to continue engineering work on the Atlanta-Athens rail corridor.

IDAHO -- Jeff Ramage, SLBC-ID, reports that through the efforts of the BLE, a coalition of rail labor unions was successful in defeating a heavy truck bill in Idaho. If passed, the bill would have allowed trucks with weights up to 129,000 pounds to operate on specific routes in Idaho. Brother Ramage would like to thank the other rail labor unions and organizations for their efforts and support in defeating this legislation.

ILLINOIS -- Through the efforts of Ed Way, SLBC-IL, Illinois enacted a new State Law that exempts Locomotive Engineers and train crew members from being required to show a driver's license to any law enforcement officer in connection with the operation of a locomotive or train within the State. As a result, the Illinois State Legislative Board is having wallet-size cards printed with this information on one side and information from 49 CFR 219.201(b) on the reverse side.

KANSAS -- The Kansas Young Democrats (KYD) has chosen to honor the Kansas Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers with their KYD Service Award. This award is reserved for individuals or groups whose commitment, support and service provided to KYD is unmatched. Congratulations to James Keele, SLBC-KS, and all BLE members in Kansas.

NEW YORK -- John Collins, SLBC-NY, reports that New York State has inaugurated the first of seven new Turboliner trains on the Empire Corridor. Funding for the new trains is part of a $185 million partnership between New York State and Amtrak.

WEST VIRGINIA -- Darrell Blake, SLBC-WV, reports that new legislation taking effect in June 2000, will impose fines for railroad companies that don't clear grade crossings when instructed by emergency officials. A $1,000 fine will be levied for the first offense, $2,000 for the second, and $5,000 for third and subsequent offenses. For non-emergency situations, trains illegally blocking crossings for more than the 10-minute maximum will be fined $150 for the first offense, $250 for the second, and $350 for third and subsequent offenses.

FRA REMOTE TECHNICAL CONFERENCE -- On July 19, FRA will hold a technical conference on the use of remote control locomotives, focusing on the current status of remote operation and possible developments of guidelines for remote operations.

STUDY OF TRAIN IDLING HAZARDS -- Included in a $54.7 billion transportation appropriations bill approved by the U.S. Senate is language directing the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study of the "adverse effects" of idling train engines. The bill would initiate a one-year study of the "noise impacts of railroad operations, including idling train engines on the quality of life of nearby communities, the quality of the environment (consideration of air pollution) and safety The report shall include recommendations for mitigation to combat rail noise, standards for determining when noise mitigation is required, needed changes in federal law to give federal, state and local governments flexibility in combating railroad noise, and possible funding mechanisms for financing mitigation projects."

TRAIN CONTROL PROJECT -- The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $34 million contract to a team lead by Lockheed Martin Corporation to develop and a deploy a Positive Train Control (PTC) system on a 120-mile segment of the Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail passenger corridor. The system will enable UP's Omaha Center to monitor real time location of trains. The contract award is being made through the North American Joint Positive Train Control Program, a partnership between FRA, Illinois DOT, and AAR.

SAFETY ADVISORY (roadrailer trailers) -- FRA has issued Safety Advisory 99-03A to modify and update previously issued Safety Advisory 99-03 which addressed securement of floor beam cross-members on RoadRailer trailers. The revision addresses securement of lift rods to prevent the highway tandem wheels on these trailers from falling to the rails on moving trains.

SAFETY ADVISORY (Model B1 Relays) -- FRA has issued Safety Advisory 2000-1 addressing safety concerns involving Model B1 relays manufactured by General Railway Signal between the years 1960 and 1985 and their potential to stick and remain in the energized position. FRA determined that the safety of railroad employees and the general public compels the issuance of this Safety Advisory.



2000 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers