U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers announced a $4,962,110.00 grant from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to make safety improvements to the Alabama Tennessee River Railway (ATN) between Birmingham and Guntersville, Alabama. Rogers called on the DOT to approve the grant.
The Student Council of Ragland High School, led by President Jaxon Phillips, called for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to fund the Ragland Safety, Transportation, Education, and Mobility Project, known as “STEM.”
Trains often block Ragland’s only grade crossing, cutting the town in half for hours. This blocks first responders and school buses and causes disruptions for student attendance and learning. The STEM Project would eliminate these disruptions.
The project includes upgrading siding and wye tracks that can handle increased traffic, eliminating switching across SR-144, rehabilitating the SR-144 grade crossing surface, reactivation of rockslide warning signals to allow for 25 mph train speeds between Birmingham and Ragland, and elimination of bridge defects on nine bridge structures to ensure continued 286,000-pound capacity. The project is expected to increase capacity, speed and efficiency, and eliminate safety risks posed by rail switching operations across SR-144. The project qualifies for the statutorily required set-aside for rural investment.
“The students at Ragland High School are a real example of how anyone, no matter their age, can effect positive change in their community. These students worked hard to make a difference and I was honored to advocate for this grant on their behalf,” Rogers stated. “This railroad crossing poses multiple safety risks for the community and has made students needlessly late for school. This grant will make needed improvements to this crossing to make it safer and more efficient.”
“This development is going to positively change the direction of our town’s future, and I hope that it set a precedent for student councils across the nation,” Jaxon Phillips stated. “Students are often neglected when it comes to the consideration of their opinions. STEM has allowed the students of Ragland High School the opportunity to experience the joy of knowing that our elected leaders have heard our voices. I know I’m no longer the President of the Student Council, but as the former President I must say on behalf of the Ragland High School student body and faculty, we thank you for your efforts and your support for STEM.”
“We are focused on helping our customers like National Cement achieve their objectives by expanding our capacity to increase their access to markets across the southeast. We were very happy to work with Rep. Rogers to promote a project that improves safety, improves quality of life in Ragland, and improves the competitiveness of our customers,” Dean Piacente, CEO of OmniTRAX, Inc., parent company of the ATN, said.