Federal government says it will close some dangerous rail crossings, upgrade others

Canada's Transport Minister Marc Garneau announces $16.5 million for 136 rail project projects. Callum Smith/Global News

Ottawa says it will close particularly dangerous rail crossings and upgrade many others as it moves to improve rail safety.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced Tuesday that Transport Canada will provide $16.5 million for 136 new projects.

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That will include improvements to 104 grade crossings and other rail infrastructure across the country.

A news release says the changes will include the closures of grade crossings that present safety concerns.

Transport Canada says grade crossing and trespassing accidents still cause the most rail-related deaths and serious injuries.

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Garneau made the announcement in Moncton, N.B., only a few blocks from the site of the July 2016 death of Steven Harel, whose wheelchair became stuck and immobilized at a railway crossing before he was fatally struck by a CN train.

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A family lawsuit claimed that Harel waited an “excruciatingly long time” before the train hit and killed him.

Transport Canada is basing the spending announced Tuesday on recommendations from the 2018 Railway Safety Act Review report.

READ MORE: New Brunswick not on list to receive federal rail safety funding despite fatal collision

“Rail safety is my top priority,” Garneau said in a statement.

“We have taken many steps to strengthen rail safety and will continue working on ways to make our railway system safer for Canadians.”

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