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FHWA Home / Safety / HSIP / Railway-Highway Crossings (Section 130) Program

Railway-Highway Crossings (Section 130) Program

Railroad crossing sign

Program Overview
Policy and Guidance

Program Overview

The Railway-Highway Crossings (Section 130) Program provides funds for the elimination of hazards at railway-highway crossings. The Section 130 Program has been correlated with a significant decrease in fatalities at railway-highway grade crossings. Since the Program's inception in 1987 through 2014, for which most recent data is available, fatalities at these crossings have decreased by 57 percent. The overall reductions in fatalities come despite an increase in the vehicle miles traveled on roadways and an increase in the passenger and freight traffic on the railways.

The 2015 Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) continues the annual set-aside for railway-highway crossing improvements under 23 USC 130(e). The funds are set-aside from the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) apportionment.  The FAST Act increased the set-aside amount for each fiscal year.  In addition, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (Public Law 114-113) provided a one-time increase for fiscal year 2016.  The annual set-aside will be:

FY 2016:    $350 million
FY 2017:    $230 million
FY 2018:    $235 million
FY 2019:    $240 million
FY 2020:    $245 million

The funds are apportioned to States by formula.  For information on FAST Act apportionments by State, please see the funding tables.

In accordance with 23 USC 130(f), Section 130 projects are funded at a 90% federal share.

Policy and Guidance


The Section 130 program funds are eligible for projects at all public crossings including roadways, bike trails and pedestrian paths. Fifty percent of a State's apportionment under 23 USC 130(e) is dedicated for the installation of protective devices at crossings. The remainder of the funds apportionment can be used for any hazard elimination project, including protective devices. The FAST Act extends eligibility to include projects at grade crossings to eliminate hazards posed by blocked crossings due to idling trains.

In accordance with 23 USC 130(i), the funds can be used as incentive payments for local agencies to close public crossings provided there are matching funds from the railroad. Also, in accordance with 23 USC 130(h), the funds can be used for local agencies to provide matching funds for State-funded projects.

Program Requirements

Per 23 USC 130(d), each State is required to conduct and maintain a survey of all highways to identify railroad crossings that may require separation, relocation, or protective devices, and establish and implement a schedule of projects. At a minimum, this schedule is to provide signs for all railway-highway crossings.

In accordance with 23 USC 130(g), States are required to submit annual reports on the progress of implementing their Railway-Highway Crossings program. For additional information please see the Railway-Highways Crossings Program Reporting Guidance and the Rail-Highway Crossings Program (Section 130) Questions & Answers. Also, 23 USC 130(k) allows States to use up to 2% of their Section 130 funding for compilation and analysis of data to support the reporting requirements.

23 USC 130(l) requires States to update information for each public crossing in the DOT crossing inventory database, including information about warning devices and signage. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) maintains the Crossing Inventory. On January 6, 2015, the FRA published regulations that require railroads to submit information to the Crossing Inventory about crossings through which they operate. For more information, see the FRA National Grade Crossing Inventory Reporting Regulations.

Emergency Notification Systems

The Federal Railroad Administration issued regulations under 49 CFR 234 Subpart E for Emergency Notification Systems (ENS). The ENS allows members of the public to contact the railroads responsible for the crossing and report an emergency or other unsafe condition at highway-rail and pathway crossings. The ENS consists of:

More information can be found on FRA's ENS webpage. The layout of Emergency Notification signs (sign I-13) for railroad grade crossings can be found in the FHWA Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices Standard Highway Signs


State Grade Crossing Action Plans
10 States with the highest number of grade crossing collisions on average during calendar years 2006, 2007 and 2008 were required to develop a State highway-rail grade crossing action plans as required under 49 CFR 234.11. The ten States and their State Action Plans (SAP) plans are:

Highway-Railway Grade Crossing Action Plan and Project Prioritization Noteworthy Practices (FHWA, 2016) – State highway-rail grade crossing action plans identify specific solutions for improving safety at crossings; focus on crossings that have experienced multiple accidents or at high risk for such accidents; and cover a five-year time period. FHWA and FRA developed this model grade crossing action plan for States that wish to update existing State Action Plans or develop a new State Action Plan to address grade crossing safety.

NEW! Federal Aid Essentials video describing the Section 130 – Rail Highway Crossings Program (5:46) including an overview of requirements that State DOTs and local agencies must follow when utilizing Section 130 funds. Additional videos on the Federal-Aid Highway Program and a variety of project requirements can be found at the FHWA Federal Aid Essentials Video Library.

FAST Act Railway-Highway Crossings Program Fact Sheet (FHWA, 2016) – This resource provides a high-level overview of the Railway-Highway Crossings Program provisions under the FAST Act.

Highway/Rail Grade Crossings Information Resource Center (TRB, ongoing) – This website provides a gateway to information and resources pertaining to the safety and other affected characteristics (including economic considerations, traffic flow and delay, and countermeasures) of both highway and rail traffic at points where they intersect at grade, including the proximate surrounding environment such as rail transit facilities.

Recording Devices for Interconnected Grade Crossing and Intersection Signal Systems: An Informational Report (FHWA, 2012) – This resource provides technical information to assist highway agencies and railroads with integrating effective event recording devices within interconnected/preempted highway-rail grade crossing signal systems. It is intended for those agencies installing new systems as well as those retrofitting existing systems.

Driver Behavior at Highway-Railroad Grade Crossings: A Literature Review from 1990-2006 (FRA, 2008) – This document reviews research addressing driver behavior at highway-railroad grade crossings to understand decisions and actions at these crossings to develop better countermeasures to discourage dangerous driving behavior. Updates 1990 literature review Driver Behavior at Rail-Highway Crossings.

Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Handbook [HTML] [PDF] (FHWA, 2007) – This reference document provides general information on highway-rail crossings; characteristics of the crossing environment and users; and the physical and operational improvements that can be made at highway-rail grade crossings to enhance the safety and operation of both highway and rail traffic over crossing intersections. The guidelines and alternative improvements presented in this handbook are primarily those that have proved effective and are accepted nationwide.

Compilation of State Laws and Regulations Affecting Highway-Rail Grade Crossings (FRA, 2014) – This resource provides overview of various State laws and regulations concerning every aspect of the regulation of highway-rail grade crossings and driver behavior at those crossings. It covers all fifty States and the District of Columbia.

Guidance on Traffic Control Devices at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings (USDOT, 2002) – This document discusses existing FHWA and FRA policies concerning highway-rail grade crossings to provide guidance to users who understand general engineering and operations of highway-rail grade crossings.

Investigation of Retroreflective Sign Materials at Passive Railroad Crossings (VA Transportation Research Council, 1995) – This report investigated the best configuration of retroreflective material on Railroad Crossing signs at railroad-highway grade crossings at night.

FHWA-FRA Joint Webinar Series

View recordings of the previous webinars:

June 20, 2017 on State Action Plans and the Highway-Railway Grade Crossing Action Plan and Project Prioritization Noteworthy Practices guide (1:13)

October 18, 2017 on Grade Crossing Inventory reporting requirements, inventory systems and data. Due to technological difficulties, audio was not available but script can be read in Closed Captioning. (1:15)

January 25, 2018 on the Section 130 Program including Federal overview and two State DOT programs. (1:31)

April 25, 2018 for a demonstration of FRA's GXDash! Collision Dashboard and overview of the FHWA MUTCD Part 8 and ENS (Emergency Notification System) Signs. (1:23)

July 26, 2018 on Pedestrian Crossing Treatments (1:30)

November 1, 2018 on Quiet Zones (1:24)

January 30, 2019 on Agency Coordination (1:20)

April 17, 2019 on Autonomous and Connected Vehicles at Rail Crossings (0:58)

Noteworthy Practices

State and local agencies are implementing data-driven practices to successfully address highway-railway crossing safety planning, implementation, and evaluation challenges. These noteworthy practices can help streamline project development and implementation, improve coordination with rail partners, and utilize funding effectively – with the goal of reducing roadway fatalities and serious injuries. Flyers on case studies highlighting these noteworthy practices can be downloaded here:

The FHWA Office of Safety is collecting and making these practices available in the Roadway Safety Noteworthy Practices Database. For more information, visit the Safety Roadway Safety Professional Capacity Building website.

Related Links

Federal Resources

Rail-Highway Stakeholder Groups

Rail Carriers

Page last modified on April 18, 2019
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