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FHWA Home / Safety / HSIP / Highway-Rail Crossing Handbook - Third Edition

Highway-Rail Crossing Handbook - Third Edition

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Cover: Railroad-Highway Crossing Handbook - Third Edition

U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration

Safe Roads for a Safer Future. Investment in roadway safety saves lives.

FHWA-SA-18-040

Printable Version [Available Soon]

FOREWORD

The Highway-Rail Crossing Handbook, 3rd Edition (Handbook) has been prepared to disseminate current practices and requirements for developing engineering treatments for highway-rail grade crossings (referred to herein as "crossings"). The Handbook is intended to provide practitioners of all levels of knowledge and experience with critical background information and "noteworthy practices" consistent with the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD) and more recent guidance developed by recognized subject matter experts. This edition constitutes a substantial update to and revision of the 2007 Handbook and efforts have been made to reorganize the contents. This edition includes "hotlinks" to facilitate navigation and access external information available on the web.

Notice

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 the information contained in this document. This document does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation and the contents of this document do not necessarily reflect official policy of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

This document contains images that are shown for illustration purposes only. For specific requirements, please refer to the 2009 edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.

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 the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) provide 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. The FHWA and FRA periodically review quality issues and adjusts their programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

TECHNICAL REPORT DOCUMENTATION PAGE (FORM DOT F 1700.7)

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No. FHWA-SA-18-040/FRA-RRS-18-001 2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle
Highway-Rail Crossing Handbook, 3rd Edition
5. Report Date
July 2019
6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)
Brent D. Ogden, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.
Chelsey Cooper, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.
8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address
Institute of Transportation Engineers
1617 Eye Street NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20006
10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)
11. Contract or Grant No.
TFH61-13-D-00026
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address
Office of Safety Design
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Federal Railroad Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
13. Type of Report and Period Covered
14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes:
FHWA Contracting Officer's Task Order Manager: Kelly Morton; FRA Task Order Manager: Debra Chappell;
ITE Project Manager: Lisa Fontana Tierney; ITE Technical Publications Manager: Deborah Rouse.
16. Abstract The purpose of the Highway-Rail Crossing Handbook, 3rd Edition is an information resource developed to provide a unified reference document on prevalent and best practices as well as adopted standards relative to highway-rail grade crossings. The handbook provides general information on highway-rail crossings; characteristics of the crossing environment and users; and physical and operational changes that can be made at crossings to enhance the safety and operation of both highway and rail traffic over such intersections. The guidelines identified and potential alternative improvements presented in this handbook reflect current best practices nationwide.

This handbook supersedes the Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Handbook–Revised Second Edition published in August 2007. This version includes a compendium of materials that were included in the previous one, supplemented with new information and applicable regulations in force that were available at the time of the update.
17. Key Words
Grade Crossing, Railroad, Traffic Control, Crossing Safety
18. Distribution Statement
Grade Crossing, Railroad, Traffic Control, Crossing Safety
19. Security Classif. (of this report)
Unclassified
20. Security Classif. (of this page)
Unclassified
21. No. of Pages
250
22. Price

Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized


SI* (MODERN METRIC) CONVERSION FACTORS

The standard SI* (MODERN METRIC) CONVERSION FACTORS table is included here in this document, containing the approximate conversion factors to and from SI units. The table itself is available in 508 compliant HTML at the following URL: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/convtabl.cfm


TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION

GLOSSARY

CHAPTER 2. ENGINEERED TREATMENTS

EXISTING LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS, AND POLICIES

CLOSURE OR SEPARATION

CROSSING CONSOLIDATION AND SAFETY PROGRAMS

State Program Example–NCDOT

Local Program Example–San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG)

Railroad Program Example–BNSF Railway Company (BNSF)

INACTIVE OR ABANDONED CROSSINGS

REMOVAL OF GRADE SEPARATION STRUCTURES

State Level Guidance–Pennsylvania

RELOCATION

SITE IMPROVEMENTS

Crossing Geometry

Removing Obstructions and Sight Distance

Illumination

Safety Barriers and Crossing Surfaces

NEW CROSSINGS

PASSIVE CROSSING TREATMENTS

Signs

Pavement Markings

Exclusion Zone (Keep Clear) Treatments

Edge Lines

Arrow Markings

Dynamic Envelope

ACTIVE TREATMENTS

Overview

Train Detection and Device Activation

Constant Warning Time Track Circuit

Warning Time Considerations

FLASHING-LIGHT SIGNALS

Cantilevered Flashing-Light Signals

Supplemental Flashing-Light Signals

AUDIBLE WARNING

Wayside Horn

AUTOMATIC GATES

Four-Quadrant Gates

Barrier Gate

USE OF CHANNELIZATION WITH GATES

Barrier Wall Systems

Wide Raised Medians

Non-Mountable (Non-Traversable) Curb Islands

Mountable Raised Curb Systems (Traffic Separators)

PREEMPTION OF TRAFFIC SIGNALS

Excerpts from ITE Recommended Practice on Preemption of Traffic Signals Near Railroad Crossings

Pre-Signal and Queue Cutter Design Considerations

Management of Queueing at Frontage Roads

Adjacent Railroad Crossings

Active Advance Warning Signs

TRANSIT AND ON-STREET RAIL

Control of Motor Vehicle Turning Treatments

LRT Bar Signals

Pedestrian and Bicycle Signals at LRT Crossings.

PEDESTRIANS, BICYCLES, AND ACCESSIBILITY

Channelization

Accessibility Standards

MUTCD Provisions

Current Practices

Recommended Practices for Stop Lines and Detectable Warnings

ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLES OF PEDESTRIAN TREATMENTS

Pathway Crossing Signing and Markings for Bicyclists and Skater

Dynamic Envelope Markings

Pedestrian Barriers

Z-crossing Channelization

Swing Gates

Flashing-Light Signals

Pedestrian Automatic Gates

Crossing Gate Skirt

CHAPTER 3. TREATMENT SELECTION GUIDANCE

TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP GUIDANCE

PEDESTRIAN TREATMENTS

DIAGNOSTIC STUDY METHOD

ECONOMIC BENEFIT-COST ANALYSIS

RESOURCE ALLOCATION PROCEDURE

FRA GRADEDEC SOFTWARE

MUTCD Interpretations, Experimentation, Changes, and Interim Approvals

CHAPTER 4. PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION

PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT

FUNDING

Federal Sources

State Funding

Local Agency Funding

Railroad Funding

AGREEMENTS

DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

TRAFFIC CONTROL DURING CONSTRUCTION

Traffic Control Zones

Traffic Control Devices

Typical Applications

CHAPTER 5. MAINTENANCE, MANAGEMENT, AND OPERATIONS

RESPONSIBILITIES

TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES

INTERCONNECTED SYSTEMS

ROADSIDE CLEAR ZONE

ROADSIDE APPROACHES

ROUTINE MAINTENANCE

BLOCKED CROSSINGS

Solutions to Blocked Crossings

DOT CROSSING INVENTORY

CHAPTER 6. SPECIAL TOPICS

PRIVATE CROSSINGS

SHORT LINE RAILROADS

LIGHT RAIL AND BUSWAYS

HIGH SPEED RAIL

TRUCKS AND BUSES

Trucks with Hazardous Material Cargo

Buses

Long and Heavily Laden Trucks

BICYCLES AND MOTORCYCLES

ITS

ITS National Architecture and User Service

Standard 1570

QUIET ZONES

Overview

Requirement to Sound the Locomotive Horn

Creation of Quiet Zones

Establishment of New Quiet Zones

Length of Quiet Zones

Supplemental and Alternative Safety Measures

Automated Wayside Horn

Special Circumstances

EDUCATION AND ENFORCEMENT

Education

Enforcement

APPENDICES

REFERENCES


LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1. Highway-Rail Crossing Cross Section

Figure 2. Fitting Three Vertical Curves to an Approach to a Railroad Crossing Profile

Figure 3. Low Ground Clearance Warning Signs

Figure 4. Treatment for Low Ground Clearance

Figure 5. Approach Regions with Passive Traffic Control Devices

Figure 6. Pole and Luminaire Locations Where a Railroad ROW Crosses a Public Roadway

Figure 7. Regulatory Signs and Plaques for Crossings

Figure 8. Warning Signs and Plaques for Crossings

Figure 9. Crossing Sign (Crossbuck)

Figure 10. Typical Sign System with STOP or YIELD

Figure 11. Highway-Rail Crossing (Crossbuck) Sign and STOP or YIELD Sign on Same Post

Figure 12. Highway-Rail Crossing (Crossbuck) Sign and STOP Sign on Separate Posts

Figure 13. Example of Emergency Notification Sign (ENS)

Figure 14. Placement of Advance Warning Signs with Parallel Roadway

Figure 15. Substandard Clear Storage Distance

Figure 16. Example of Placement of Warning Signs and Pavement Markings at Highway-Rail Crossings

Figure 17. Use of Diagonal Exclusion Zone Striping Shown at Pre-Signal Location

Figure 18. Illustration of Use of Tubular Markers (Metro North Harlem Subdivision, Green Lane Crossing, Bedford Hills, NY ID 529898H)

Figure 19. Example of Dynamic Envelopment Pavement Markings at Grade Crossings

Figure 20. DC Track Circuit

Figure 21. Illustrative Example Showing Cantilever with Flashing-Light Devices

Figure 22. Typical Alignment Pattern for Flashing-Light Signals with 30-15 Degree Roundel, Two-Lane, Two-Way Roadway

Figure 23. Use of Multiple Flashing-Light Signals for Adequate Visibility Horizontal Curve to the Left

Figure 24. Use of Multiple Flashing-Light Signals for Adequate Visibility Horizontal Curve to the Right

Figure 25. Use of Sidelights for Frontage Roads

Figure 26. Automated Wayside Horn

Figure 27. Typical Location of Signal Devices

Figure 28. Typical Crossing Gate Placement at 2-Lane Orthogonal Crossing

Figure 29. Typical Crossing Gate Placement at Obtuse Angled Crossing

Figure 30. Typical Crossing Gate Placement at Acute Angled Crossing

Figure 31. Alternate Crossing Gate Placement at Acute Angled Crossing (Shown with Exit Gates)

Figure 32. Typical Crossing Gate and Cantilever Placement at Multi-Lane Roadway with Medians and Median Gates–Cantilever Upstream from Gates

Figure 33. Typical Crossing Gate and Cantilever Placement at Multi-Lane Roadway with Medians and Median Gates–Cantilever Downstream from Gates

Figure 34. Example of Location Plan for Flashing-Light Signals and Four-Quadrant Gates

Figure 35. Example of a Resistance Barrier

Figure 36. Example of Combination of Mountable and Non-Mountable Curbs from Illinois Department of Transportation.

Figure 37. Example of a Traffic Separator

Figure 38. Clear Storage and Minimum Track Clearance Distanc

Figure 39. Illustrative Example Showing Use of Relocated Stop Line (Dallas Rapid Transit Red Line S. Hampton Rd Crossing at Wright Street, Dallas, TX)

Figure 40. Illustrative Example Showing Displaced Stop Line (PCJX S. Mary Avenue Crossing at W. Evelyn Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA, USDOT 755037b)

Figure 41. Illustrative Example Showing Downstream Mounted Pre-Signal (SCAX Sierra Avenue Crossing at Orange Way, Fontana, CA, USDOT 026145L)

Figure 42. Illustrative Example of a Cantilever-Mounted Pre-Signal (CSX 120th Avenue Crossing at E. Lakewood Boulevard in Holland, MI, USDOT 234648C)

Figure 43. Illustrative Example of Queue Cutter (SCAX Balboa Boulevard Crossing at Roscoe Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA, USDOT 745989G)

Figure 44. Queue Prevention Strategies

Figure 45. Illustrative Example of Stop Sign Placement

Figure 46. No Turns Internally Illuminated Signs

Figure 47. LRT Signals

Figure 48. Example of Signing and Markings for a Pathway Crossing

Figure 49. Illustrative Example of an ADA Dynamic Envelope Delineation (Sacramento Regional Transit, K Street Pedestrian Mall, Sacramento, CA)

Figure 50. Illustrative Example of Dynamic Envelope Delineation through a Pedestrian Crosswalk (Portland TriMet, Morrison Street, Portland, Oregon)

Figure 51. Diagram Depicting Use of Pedestrian Barriers

Figure 52. Illustrative Example of a Pedestrian Barrier Application (BNSF Cotton Crossing, Peoria, AZ USDOT 025405Y)

Figure 53. Illustrative Example of a Z-Crossing Diagrammatic Plan for an In-Situ Application in Portland, Oregon

Figure 54. Illustrative Example of a Z-Crossing (Portland TriMet, Burnside Avenue, Portland, OR)

Figure 55. Diagrammatic Plan of a Swing Gate

Figure 56. Illustrative Example of Pedestrian Automatic Gate with Swing Gate

Figure 57. Flashing-Light Signal Placement Options

Figure 58. Examples of Placement of Pedestrian Gates

Figure 59. Diagrammatic Example of Pedestrian Gate with Skirt

Figure 60. Illustrative Example of Pedestrian Gate with Skirt (DART Blue Line Lynn Haven Avenue Crossing, Dallas, TX)

Figure 61. Resource Allocation Procedure Field Verification Worksheet

Figure 62. Work in the Vicinity of a Crossing (TA-46)

Figure 63. Crossing Work Activities, Closure of Side Road Crossing

Figure 64. Train Speed Warning Sign

Figure 65. Design for Degree of Trail-Rail Crossing

Figure 66. Highway Rail Intersection Interface Overview


LIST OF TABLES

Table 1. Federal Requirements for High-Speed Rail Crossings

Table 2. Sight Distance Zones

Table 3. Clearing Sight Distance Criteria by Mode

Table 4. Current MUTCD Signs

Table 5. Comparison of Queue Management Devices and Techniques

Table 6. Use of Active Internally Illuminated Signs for Parallel Traffic Turning Across LRT Tracks

Table 7. LRT Grade Separation

Table 8. Collision Prediction and Resource Allocation Procedure Normalizing Constants

Table 9. Recommended Advance Warning Sign Minimum Spacing

Table 10. Possible Solutions to Observed Problems at LRT Crossings

Table 11. Potential Tier Structure for Passenger Systems at Highway-Rail Crossings


APPENDICES:

A. APPENDIX–BACKGROUND

INTRODUCTION

KEY STATISTICS

Safety and Operations at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings

Crossing Improvement Funding Programs

RESPONSIBILITIES

Fundamental Issues of Highway-Rail Crossings

Government Agency Responsibility and Involvement

Railroad Responsibility and Involvement

B. APPENDIX–COMPONENTS OF A HIGHWAY-RAIL GRADE CROSSING

HIGHWAY COMPONENTS

Driver

Vehicle

Pedestrians

Roadway

Traffic Control Devices

RAILROAD COMPONENTS

Train

Track

C. APPENDIX–ASSESSMENT OF CROSSING SAFETY AND OPERATION

COLLECTION AND MAINTENANCE OF DATA

USDOT Grade Crossing Inventory

Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Collision Data

HAZARD INDICES AND ACCIDENT PREDICTION FORMULAE

Hazard Index

Crash Prediction Model

USDOT Accident Prediction Model

ENGINEERING STUDY

Diagnostic Team Study Method

Corridor Approach

D. APPENDIX–DIAGNOSTIC TEAM CROSSING EVALUATION REPORTING EXAMPLES FROM STATES

E. APPENDIX–PREEMPTION CALCULATION PROCEDURES, EXAMPLE FROM STATE OF TEXAS


APPENDICES: LIST OF FIGURES

Figure A-1. Railroad Crossing Deaths, Injuries, and Incidents from 2008-2017

Figure B-1. Reflectorization Example–Standards Applicable to Boxcars

Figure C-1. Rail Equipment Accident/Incident Report Form

Figure C-2. Sample Questionnaire for Diagnostic Team Evaluation

Figure C-3. Study Positions for Diagnostic Team

Figure C-4. Sight Distance for Moving Vehicle

Figure C-5. Sight Distance for Stopped Vehicle

Figure C-6. Pedestrian Sight Distance Triangle (Double Track Crossing)

Figure D-1. State of Texas Department of Transportation Diagnostic Review Form

Figure E-1. Texas DOT–Guide for Determining Time Requirements for Traffic Signal Preemption at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings


APPENDICES: LIST OF TABLES

Table A-1. Class 1 Railroad Line Miles and Track Miles

Table A-2. Public At-Grade Crossings by Functional Classifications, 2017

Table A-3. Public At-Grade Crossing by Highway System, 2017

Table A-4. Fatalities at Public Crossings, 1920-2017

Table A-5. Collisions, Fatalities, and Injuries at Public Crossings, 1975-2017

Table A-6. Collisions at Public Crossings Involving Motor Vehicles by Type of Train, 2004

Table B-1. Public Crossings by Warning Device, 2017

Table B-2. Motor Vehicle Collisions and Casualties at Public Crossings by Vehicle Type, 2017

Table B-3. U.S. Customary Lengths for Design Vehicles

Table B-4. Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Collision Fatalities versus Trespasser Fatalities, 2008-2017

Table B-5. Maximum Train Speeds by Class of Track

Table B-6. Public At-Grade Crossings by Type of Track, 2017

Table C-1. Sight Distances for Combinations of Highway Vehicle and Train Speeds

Table C-2. Clearing Sight Distances (in Feet)


LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND SYMBOLS

AADT = annual average daily traffic

AAR = Association of American Railroads

AASHTO = American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

AAWS = active advance warning sign

ADA = Americans with Disabilities Act

AREMA = American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association

ASLRRA = American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association

BRT = Bus Rapid Transit

C&M = construction and maintenance

CFR = Code of Federal Regulations

Crossing(s) = At-Grade Highway-Rail Crossing(s)

CSD = Clear Storage Distance

DOT = Department of Transportation

DSRC = Dedicated Short-Range Communications

FAPG = Federal-Aid Policy Guide

FARS = Fatal Accident Reporting System

FAST Act = Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act

FHWA = Federal Highway Administration

FMCSA = Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

FRA = Federal Railroad Administration

FTA = Federal Transit Administration

GPS = Global Positioning System

HSIP= Highway Safety Improvement Program

ICC = Interstate Commerce Commission

IEEE = Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

ISTEA = Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act

ITE = Institute of Transportation Engineers

ITS = Intelligent Transportation Systems

LED = light emitting diode

LRT = light-rail transit

LRV = light-rail vehicles

MAP-21 = Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act

MCSAP = Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program

MPH or mph = miles per hour

MTB = Materials Transportation Bureau

MTCD = Minimum Track Clearance Distance

MUTCD = Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices

NCDOT = North Carolina Department of Transportation

NCHRP = National Cooperative Highway Research Program

NCUTCD = National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices

NHS = National Highway System

NHTSA = National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

NSRT = Nationwide Significant Risk Threshold

NTD = National Transit Database

NTSB = National Transportation Safety Board

O&M = Operations and Maintenance

OLI = Operation Lifesaver Incorporated

PHMSA = Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

PL = Public Law

PROWAG = [Draft] Proposed Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines

QZRI = Quiet Zone Risk Index

ROW = right-of-way

SAFETEA-LU = Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users

SHSP = Strategic Highway Safety Plan

SMIS = Safety Management Information System

STAA = Surface Transportation Assistance Act

STB = Surface Transportation Board

STP = Surface Transportation Program

TEA-21 = Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century

TCRP = Transit Cooperative Research Program

TMS = Traffic Management System

TRB = Transportation Research Board

TTC = Temporary Traffic Control

TTCI = Transportation Technology Center, Inc.

TWG = Technical Working Group

U.S.C. = United States Code

USDOT = United States Department of Transportation

UVC = Uniform Vehicle Code

WBAPS = Web Based Accident Prediction System

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Page last modified on November 14, 2019
Safe Roads for a Safer Future - Investment in roadway safety saves lives
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000