United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration FHWA HomeFeedback
Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Handbook - Revised Second Edition August 2007
Table of Contents Table of Contents | Next

FHWA Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Handbook CoverTable of Contents

Technical Report Documentation - SI (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors

List of Figures - List of Tables

I. Overview

A. Background

1. Introduction to Highway-Rail Grade Crossings
2. Safety and Operations at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings

B. Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Programs

C. Responsibilities at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings

1. Fundamental Issues
2. Government Agency Responsibility and Involvement
3. Railroads

D. Legal Considerations Regarding Highway-Rail Grade Crossings

1. Background
2. Tort Liability and Standards

E. References

II. Components of a Highway-Rail Grade Crossing

A. The Highway Component

1. Driver
2. Vehicle
3. Pedestrians
4. Roadway
5. Traffic Control Devices

B. Railroad Components

1. Train

Requirement to Sound the Locomotive Horn
Creation of Quiet Zones
Maintenance of Pre-Rule Quiet Zones
Creation of New Quiet Zones
Length of Quiet Zones
Supplementary and Alternative Safety Measures
Recognition of the Automated Wayside Horn
Special Circumstances
Other Provisions

2. Track

3. Signaling

C. References

III. Assessment of Crossing Safety and Operation

A. Collection and Maintenance of Data

1. U.S. Department of Transportation Grade Crossing Inventory
2. Grade Crossing Collision Data

B. Hazard Indices and Accident Prediction Formulae

1. Hazard Index
2. U.S. Department of Transportation Accident Prediction Model

C. Engineering Study

1. Diagnostic Team Study Method
2. Traffic Conflict Technique
3. Collision Study
4. Traffic Study
5. Near-Hit Reports
6. Enforcement Study

D. Systems Approach

E. References

IV. Identification of Alternatives

A. Existing Laws, Rules, Regulations, and Policies

B. Elimination

C. Grade Separation

D. Highway and Railroad Relocation

E. Closure

1. Closure Programs
2. Crossing Consolidation and Safety Programs

F. Abandoned Crossings

G. New Crossings

H. Passive Traffic Control Devices

1. Signs
2. Pavement Markings

I. Active Traffic Control Devices

1. Flashing Light Signals
2. Cantilevered Flashing Light Signals
3. Supplemental Flashing Light Signals
4. Light-Emitting Diode Flashing Light Signals
5. Automatic Gates
6. Four-Quadrant Gates
7. Use of Channelization with Gates
8. Barrier Gate
9. Warning Bell
10. Wayside Horn System
11. Active Advance Warning Sign
12. “Second Train Coming” Active Warning Sign
13. Active Turn Restriction Signs
14. New Traffic Signals
15. Preemption of Traffic Signals
16. Train Detection
17. Pre-Signals
18. Queue Prevention Strategies

J. Pedestrian and Bicycle Considerations

K. Roundabouts

L. Site and Operational Improvements

1. Removing Obstructions
2. Crossing Geometry
3. Illumination
4. Shielding Supports for Traffic Control Devices

M. Crossing Surfaces

N. Removal of Grade Separation Structures

O. References

V. Selection of Alternatives

A. Technical Working Group Guidance on Traffic Control Devices—Selection Criteria and Procedure

1. Minimum Devices
2. Minimum Widths
3. Passive—Minimum Traffic Control Applications
4. Active
5. Closure
6. Grade Separation
7. New Crossings
8. Traffic Control Device Selection Procedure

B. Guidance on STOP and YIELD Signs

C. Canadian Research on Cost Effectiveness

D. Economic Analysis Procedures

1. Cost-Effectiveness Analysis
2. Benefit-Cost Ratio
3. Net Annual Benefit

E. Resource Allocation Procedure

F. Federal Railroad Administration GradeDec Software

G. References

VI. Implementation of Projects

A. Funding

1. Federal Sources
2. State Funding
3. Local Agency Funding
4. Railroad Funding

B. Agreements

C. Accounting

D. Design and Construction

E. Traffic Control During Construction

1. Traffic Control Zones
2. Traffic Control Devices
3. Typical Applications

F.  Program Development

G. References

VII. Maintenance Program

A. Railroad Responsibility

B. Highway Authority Responsibility

1. Traffic Control Devices
2. Roadside Clear Zone
3. Roadside Approaches
4. Reassessment and Periodic Review

C. References

VIII. Evaluation of Projects and Programs

A. Project Evaluation

B. Program Evaluation

C. Administrative Evaluation

D. References

IX. Special Issues

A. Private Crossings

B. Short-Line Railroads

C. Light-Rail Lines and Issues

1. Motor Vehicle Turning Treatments
2. Use of Crossbuck Sign with LRT
3. Pedestrian Crossing Treatments
4. Solutions to Observed Problems

D. High-Speed Rail Corridors

E. Special Vehicles, Pedestrians, Motorcycles, and Bicycles

1. Trucks with Hazardous Material Cargo
2. Long and Heavily Laden Trucks
3. Buses
4. Motorcycles and Bicycles

F. Low-Cost Active Devices

G. ITS Applications

1. ITS National Architecture and User Service 30
2. Standard 1570
3. Survey of Recent ITS Initiatives
4. Proposed Demonstration Scenarios

H. References

X. Supporting Programs

A. Driver Education and Enforcement

B. Video Surveillance and Enforcement

C. Research and Development

D. References

Appendix A: Glossary

Appendix B: Index

Appendix C: Example Crash Reporting Form, State of Oklahoma

Appendix D: Example Hazardous Materials Crash Reporting Form, U.S. Department of Transportation Materials Transportation Bureau

Appendix E: List of Selected Accident Investigations, National Transportation Safety Board

Appendix F: New Hampshire Hazard Index, NCHRP Report 50 Accident Prediction Formula, Peabody-Dimmick Accident Prediction Formula

Appendix G: Diagnostic Team Crossing Evaluation Reports, Examples from States

Appendix H: State Crossing Consolidations and Closures

Appendix I: Preemption Calculation Procedures, Example From State Of Texas

Appendix J: Policy On Private Crossings, West Virginia Example

Appendix K: List of Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Studies



This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of information contained in this document. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of this document.

The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors, who are responsible for the facts and accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the U.S. Department of Transportation.


Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.


Office of Safety Design Federal Highway Administration 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE Washington, DC 20590


  Table of Contents | Next
FHWA Safety Home | FHWA Home | FHWA Safety Feedback
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration