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

Highway-Railway Grade Crossing Action Plan and Project Prioritization Noteworthy Practices

APPENDIX B. Summary of State Action Plans Submitted Under Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008

ALABAMA

Attributes of Plan

The Alabama State action plan (SAP) is 18 pages in length, uses headings and graphics throughout the document, and has a table of contents that contains the section headings. The SAP states that the Alabama Department of Transportation (DOT) Bureau of Multimodal Transportation's Railroad Safety Program developed the plan.

Adherence to SAP Mandate

Specific Solutions

The Alabama SAP addresses efforts to improve safety for the following areas:

Multiple-Crash/High-Risk Crossings

Sections exist for both crossings with multiple incidents and high-risk crossings. The section about multiple-incident crossings discusses five strategies already undertaken to reduce the number of collisions. A table showing the specific crossings that experienced multiple accidents between 2006 and 2010 shows the status of these crossings, including whether they are scheduled for improvements. The high-risk crossings are identified using the USDOT Accident Prediction Formula Index on an annual basis. Improvements are undertaken using the Federal Section 130 funding program.

5-Year Period

Crossing accident and other data are presented for the 5-year period from 2006 to 2010. The SAP indicates that it was developed in accordance with the mandate. The scope reveals the plan is effective for the 5-year period following approval.

Findings

Major Themes

The SAP states that it emphasizes road user safety at public highway-railway grade crossings.

Special Conditions

The SAP includes a section discussing high-speed rail crossing safety; however, it also says that Alabama is not currently pursuing high-speed corridors.

Analyses

No extensive data analyses were performed in the Alabama SAP: total accidents, broken down by the number of accidents, fatalities, and injuries, are presented for the 5-year period from 2006 to 2010. The number of crossing closures, the number of multiple-accident crossings, and corridor projects are also presented for that time period.

Noteworthy Practices

Alabama was willing to participate in a project to install and monitor a technology that would stretch across roadway lanes to prohibit vehicles from entering a crossing upon deployment.

CALIFORNIA

Attributes of Plan

The California SAP is 67 pages long and includes a main body report (39 pages) and seven appendices (28 pages). The document is well put together with a table of contents and a breakdown of ideas with headings throughout the text. Graphics and tables are used throughout to visualize data elements. It appears to have been developed internally by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

The general flow of the SAP includes an introduction that summarizes the mandate to perform the plan and background information related to the oversight of grade crossing safety in California and improvement efforts and initiatives already used. Another chapter provides a short list followed by detailed discussion of the action plan strategies identified for the SAP. A chapter containing a summary and conclusion completes the main body report. The appendices include an acronyms and abbreviations list, a summary of the final rule, and a letter from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) dictating the need to develop the SAP. Additionally, appendices list each multiple-accident crossing, summarize the grade separation bond fund, and report the 10-year accident data for 2000 to 2009.

Adherence to SAP Mandate

Specific Solutions

The SAP identifies and discusses 10 specific strategies. The plan states that among these 10 items are "a number of new initiatives and projects coupled with more traditional approaches to hazardous crossing identification, evaluation, and improvement project development."

Multiple-Crash/High-Risk Crossings

The multiple-crash crossings for the years 2006 and 2011 are listed in Appendix E of the SAP. The number of incidents over the 5-year period is disclosed along with a notes field that comments on recent and/or planned improvements. Based on crossing comments, it appears that the incidents per crossing include pedestrians, with suicides noted. Therefore, some crossings may be on the list due to intentional actions and not necessarily due to safety hazards. The table signifies that each crossing was evaluated individually.

5-Year Period

The plan clearly states the mandate requirements and seems to present action items focused on a 5-year period. The SAP provides a 10-year accident history in the appendix.

Findings

Major Themes

From an overall program perspective, CPUC has made it policy to reduce the number of at-grade crossings, both through improvements (closure/separation) and the development of policies that make it very difficult to add new crossings on mainline tracks. California has a robust crossing and rail safety program that continually addresses rail safety (freight, commuter, and transit rail) within the state.

Special Conditions

The SAP discusses pedestrian safety and commuter trains, along with transit rail crossings.

Analyses

Appendix G of the SAP contains crash data for the 10-year period of 2000 through 2009. Graphs include total incidents, fatalities, and injuries over that period; gated and non-gated incidents, fatalities, and injuries; and auto, pedestrian, and truck incidents, fatalities, and injuries. Incidents and casualties (fatalities plus injuries) are provided by type of railroad equipment, including freight, passenger, commuter, switching, and other. Incidents by railroad and county are also presented. Several graphics are included that compare California to other States.

Noteworthy Practices

The following are California's noteworthy practices:

FLORIDA

Attributes of Plan

The 36-page Florida SAP is organized effectively with a table of contents, list of tables, list of figures, and breakdown of ideas with headings throughout the text. Graphics, tables, and maps are used throughout to visualize data elements. There is no mention of outside consulting for the production of the Florida SAP.

The general flow of the Florida SAP includes an introduction providing an overview of Florida, Florida's rail system, and Florida's railroad crossings. The following three sections include United States and Florida general rail crossing statistics, Florida crossing safety challenges, and Florida's Highway-Railroad Improvement Program. The final section in the SAP discusses action plan strategies for eight areas.

Adherence to SAP Mandate

Specific Solutions

The eight areas that guide Florida's action strategies include:

Each area discussion largely provides an overview of existing efforts to address safety related to that area.

Multiple-Crash/High-Risk Crossings

Within the action plan strategy discussion for the signal safety program is a section dedicated to multiple-incident locations. The plan includes an evaluation of the number of crossings with multiple incidents, with a table breaking down the 74 incidents evaluated for remedial measures by type of incident. The section also presents two improvement matrices that highlight possible strategies. Strategies are selected based on driver behavior or the physical characteristics of the crossing area.

5-Year Period

The SAP does not specifically address the 5-year mandate or specifically indicate that the strategies are for a 5-year horizon. However, the reviewer feels that the development of the SAP was designed in accordance with the mandates.

Findings

Major Themes

According to the Florida SAP, it is the goal of the State of Florida to carry out a highway-railway safety program that promotes a safe, economical, and efficient transportation system in the public interest. Florida is a large State with high population levels and several unique challenges. Since the early 1970s, the department has been very proactive in systematically addressing crossing safety hazards. During the statistical analysis, it was determined that the majority of incidents occur at public crossings, are a result of risky driver behavior, involve motor vehicles, and occur at locations with active warning devices. The same conclusions can also be associated with multiple-incident locations.

Special Conditions

The plan indicates that it is more difficult to construct grade-separated highway-railway crossings in Florida due to the flat terrain.

Analyses

The plan includes a brief analysis of crossings in the State, including presenting the location of at-grade crossings on a map. A more thorough analysis is presented pertaining to incidents within a section titled "Incident Statistics." For all incidents, the data analysis includes a multi-year notation of the number of incidents, fatalities, and injuries for the whole State. It presents the total number of incidents by public or private crossings. After reviewing and analyzing detailed incident reports from FRA, the analysis determined the number of incidents involving vehicles by incident type (e.g., stopped on rails, went around gate, did not stop/yield, or stalled). Non-vehicle incidents included pedestrian, pedestrian suicide, and bicycle. A final table for total incidents breaks down the incidents by type of crossing, active crossings without gates, active crossings with gates, and other crossings. These same analyses were performed specifically on the multiple-incident locations. In addition, multiple-incident locations are divided into urban and rural. A final bar chart demonstrates the percentage of incidents at crossings with active warning devices each year from 2000 to 2010.

Noteworthy Practices

The following are Florida's noteworthy practices:

GEORGIA

Attributes of Plan

The Georgia SAP is 61 total pages in length, with a 30-page main report and appendices comprising the remainder. The document is effectively organized with a table of contents and breakdown of ideas with headings throughout the text. Graphics and tables are used throughout to visualize data elements. The SAP provides two introductory chapters ("Introduction" and "Problem Identification"), followed by five chapters focused on the action strategies. Appendices provide additional background information and data analysis. It was prepared with assistance from a consultant.

Adherence to SAP Mandate

Specific Solutions

The SAP specifically indicates "the objective of the plan is to identify specific solutions that will reduce collisions between trains or on-track equipment, and pedestrians or vehicles at crossings."The action items are categorized within four categories: education, engineering, enforcement, and data analysis. The first three adhere to the 3E approach of addressing grade crossing safety, while data analysis is critical for measuring and monitoring progress.

Multiple-Accident/High-Risk Crossings

Under the action item "Increase Publicity and Awareness," multiple-accident and high-risk locations are mentioned as locations for targeted publicity and awareness. The Georgia Department of Transportation has also initiated diagnostics for each of the multiple crash locations identified in the investigation. The data analysis section includes analysis and discussions related to multiple crash crossings.

5-Year Period

The Georgia SAP provides an overview of the mandate and specifically indicates the plan applies through 2017, which represents the 5-year period after plan approval.

Findings

Major Themes

The department has taken a programmatic corridor approach in prioritizing crossings for diagnostic evaluation. It then applies programming improvements based on the evaluation. Amtrak and school bus operations are identified by the department as high-risk situations.

Special Conditions

No noteworthy special conditions exist for Georgia.

Analyses

The Georgia SAP presents crossing and crash data in a variety of ways. Data analysis as a specific strategy points to the department's desire to measure and monitor crossing safety in the State. As stated, "measurement and analysis are necessary to improve hazard elimination strategies, as well as develop and evaluate new strategies and measures to reduce crashes." One analysis presents crashes by Class I railroad segments in the State, which presents the information at a finer level than just the entire crashes per railroad. The analysis specifically addresses Amtrak and short line railroad crashes. Crossings with Amtrak operations are considered high-risk crossings.

Noteworthy Practices

The following are Georgia's noteworthy practices:

ILLINOIS

Attributes of Plan

The 46-page Illinois SAP is well organized with a table of contents, list of tables, list of figures, and breakdown of ideas with headings throughout the text. Graphs and tables are used throughout to visualize data elements. There is no mention of outside consulting in the production of the plan.

The general flow of the Illinois SAP includes several introductory/background sections, a section containing the seven action plan strategies, sections containing analysis of crossings and collisions, and a final conclusion section.

Adherence to SAP Mandate

Specific Solutions

The Illinois SAP identifies seven strategies, with each strategy assigning specific goals. Some of the goals listed are very specific in nature, such as closing 50 highway-railway grade crossings within 5 years, while others are goals to maintain existing activities.

Multiple-Accident/High-Risk Crossings

Multiple-accident/high-risk crossings are addressed throughout the plan among the document sections. No single section addresses only multiple accidents, but the presentation of information and data is extensive.

5-Year Period

The SAP adheres to the 5-year planning horizon according to the mandate.

Findings

Major Themes

The grade crossing safety efforts in Illinois are extensive, with the Illinois Commerce Commission and its partners actively pursuing improved safety levels throughout the State. The robust program addresses safety through the 3Es of railroad crossing safety in order to approach the problem from every angle.

Special Conditions

The plan includes analysis of pedestrian-pathway-rail crossings.

Analyses

The Illinois SAP incorporates extensive analyses for both crossings and collisions. The crossing analysis includes a breakdown of the type of crossing and type of warning device by county and railroad operating in the State. The plan also includes tables presenting exposure (the number of trains multiplied by the number of vehicles) by type of railroad, type of roadway, type of warning device, region of Illinois, location of interconnected warning devices, and nearby intersections.

The collision data analysis begins with analyses that include both public and private crossings. Collisions are documented for 5- and 10-year periods in terms of frequency, fatalities, and injuries. The 80 counties that experienced one or more collisions and 117 cities that experienced two or more collisions over a 5-year period are listed. A listing of the private crossings that experienced two or more collisions is also included, along with pedestrian pathway crossings with two or more collisions.

Focusing on public crossing collisions, the analysis provides a number of tables and graphics displaying the information for five general categories: general description of collisions, highway user characteristics, time and seasonal characteristics, highway characteristics, and railroad characteristics.

Noteworthy Practices

To the extent possible, the Illinois SAP includes private crossings within the data analysis. The most detailed analysis only uses public crossings due to data limitations. Noteworthy practices include the following:

INDIANA

Attributes of Plan

The Indiana SAP is 34 pages in length and is clearly presented with a table of contents and breakdown of ideas with headings throughout the text. Graphics and tables are used throughout to visualize data elements. It appears to have been done internally by the Indiana Department of Transportation Rail Office. The SAP includes an executive summary followed by three additional chapters: introduction, problem identification, and action plan strategies.

Adherence to SAP Mandate

Specific Solutions

For purposes of evaluating the action plan, three performance measures are used: three-year average grade crossing collisions, the number of fatal and injury collisions at public grade crossings, and the number of multiple-crash crossings with more than two crashes. Each performance measure provides a safety improvement goal to strive for by 2017 (the 5-year period). Seven action plan strategies are included in the strategy chapter. Challenges to implementing each strategy are also included.

Multiple-Crash/High-Risk Crossings

Each crossing with multiple collisions is presented in the plan, along with a breakdown of the characteristics of those crossings (warning devices, railroad class, and counties). One of the strategies addresses multiple-crash crossings.

5-Year Period

The Indiana plan adheres to the mandate requirement and identifies three performance measures for the plan that have 5-year goals.

Findings

Major Themes

Having the fifth highest density of public grade crossings of any State, Indiana recognizes the need to further eliminate grade crossings through closures and separations. The Indiana DOT also notes that to achieve further reductions in grade crossing collision levels, a change in the approach to grade crossing safety is needed. The department supports this statement by adding that two-thirds of collisions occur at grade crossings with train-activated warning devices already in place.

The SAP highlights how grade crossing collisions are a tiny fraction of the number of the State's overall motor vehicle collisions, but that the consequences are more significant in nature.

Special Conditions

One section discusses how the State has no authority to regulate private grade crossings, but that private crossings are problematic along high-speed rail corridors.

Analyses

The Indiana SAP provides data for the number of grade crossings in the State by protection device and tables on how the Indiana grade crossings compare to other States. The plan contains a section summarizing collisions and casualties that includes a table on collisions by warning device and a table on primary factors in grade crossing collisions, among others.

An entire analysis section is focused on multiple-collision grade crossings, including a listing of each of those crossings. Other tables include multiple crossings by nearby signalized intersections, by warning device, and by railroad class. A final table in that section shows the number of multiple collision crossings by county.

The SAP includes a findings section that provides four conclusions related to the data analysis, with each of these conclusions offering two possible countermeasures to the trend.

Noteworthy Practices

The following are Indiana's noteworthy practices:

IOWA

Attributes of Plan

The Iowa SAP is 33 pages in length with a title page, table of contents, table of figures, and executive summary; sections are divided by major headings. Graphs and tables are used throughout to visualize data elements. There is no mention of outside consulting in the production of the plan.

The SAP begins with a clearly written executive summary that conveys the requirements to perform the report, what is included in the plan, the major findings of the data analysis, and the specific action items.

Adherence to SAP Mandate

Specific Solutions

Specific actions to include within the plan were selected from a broad list of possible solutions developed with input from the Office of Rail Transportation, Office of Traffic and Safety, and railroads. The selected actions are emphasized in terms of their affiliation with education, engineering, and enforcement. A fourth category of funding programs is also used. Each of the 12 actions identifies an expected timeline for implementation, most of which fall within the 5-year plan timeline. A later section discusses evaluation measurements for the action items.

Multiple-Crash/High-Risk Crossings

The extensive data analysis incorporates all crossings, including those with multiple collisions in recent years.

5-Year Period

The Iowa SAP clearly indicates on the title page that the plan is for the 5-year period from 2012 to 2016.

Findings

Major Themes

The Iowa SAP includes a graphic that plots the trend of grade crossing collisions since 1980. As part of the graphic, the plan also incorporates upper and lower control limits and forecasts out to 2016. The conclusions indicate that the State's goal is to maintain or improve the historic trend of accident reductions.

Special Conditions

No noteworthy special conditions exist for Iowa.

Analyses

The Iowa SAP includes an extensive crash data analysis organized into demographics, temporal, modal, and location groups. The significant findings section specifies that more analyses were conducted than is presented in the plan. Using the analyses, this section also presents typical collision conditions, such as the fact that the most typical driver of a vehicle that collides with a train is a male 25 years of age or younger.

Noteworthy Practices

The following are Iowa's noteworthy practices:

LOUISIANA

Attributes of Plan

The Louisiana SAP is 89 total pages in length. Louisiana developed a safety action plan in 2006, which was amended to meet the mandate. The plan provides a table of contents, graphics, and tables, and breaks the information down into sections with major headings. The flow of the report includes a main body that summarizes background information, lists the action items, and discusses programs. The appendix contains the 2006 SAP, amended action items, and a new data analysis for the time period preceding the new time frame.

Adherence to SAP Mandate

Specific Solutions

The Louisiana SAP contains a list of 12 clearly defined safety action items. Provided in a table, each item contains the action items, desired outcome, lead agency, and timeline/progress (what, why, who, and when).

Multiple-Crash/High-Risk Crossings

Both the original 2006 Louisiana SAP and the amended version performed extensive data analysis, which included evaluations of the multiple-collision grade crossings. The evaluations include a table of each of the multiple-collision crossings with the current protection level and the status of upgrades for those crossings.

5-Year Period

The Louisiana SAP clearly focuses on the action items within a 5-year period.

Findings

Major Themes

Louisiana had proactively developed a safety action plan in 2006 that developed a wide-ranging list of action items. The latest plan is an amended version of the previously developed plan.

Special Conditions

No noteworthy special conditions exist for Louisiana.

Analyses

Louisiana performed extensive data analysis for the 2006 SAP and updated that analysis for this SAP. Generally, all aspects of grade crossing collision data analysis are included within the SAP's analyses, including an analysis of the crossings with multiple collisions in recent years. As an update to the 2006 version, the new SAP offers some comparison between the 2006 and 2011 SAP data analyses.

Noteworthy Practices

The following are Louisiana's noteworthy practices:

OHIO

Attributes of Plan

The Ohio SAP is 31 pages in length with a title page, table of contents, and sections divided by major headings. It uses subheadings, bullets, and graphics to more clearly delineate and present the information. It begins with the State's mission or goal statement, followed by an executive summary and program description. Each of the six objectives is written in more of a template format than the remaining body text. This formulated structure clearly presents the objective, planned completion date, plans, and defined measures. The SAP concludes with the State inspection and grant programs, State program challenges, and State program contacts. There is no mention of using outside consultants to develop the SAP.

Adherence to SAP Mandate

Specific Solutions

The Ohio SAP includes six State safety program objectives. Each objective write-up includes a year initiated and year of planned completion. A problem statement defines the problem and is accompanied by a performance objective. For each objective, there are program strategies, activity plans, activity measures, and monitoring and evaluation. One objective has two strategies, while the others have one.

Multiple-Crash/High-Risk Crossings

No mention or analysis of multiple-crash/high-risk crossings is included in the plan.

5-Year Period

The objectives included in the Ohio SAP present a clearly defined year of initiation and year of planned completion. Some of the objectives were initiated prior to the mandate to develop the SAP. The time horizons for the six objectives generally range between 2 and 10 years.

Findings

Major Themes

The State of Ohio recognizes the tremendous role railroads have played and continue to play in the State and views grade crossing and rail safety as an important activity. The Public Utility of Ohio maintains several programs that provide State money for grade crossing improvements.

Special Conditions

Ohio has two State agencies participating in grade crossing safety activities. Each agency has a number of programs.

Analyses

No data analysis is presented in the Ohio SAP.

Noteworthy Practices

The following are Ohio's noteworthy practices:

TEXAS

Attributes of Plan

The robust Texas SAP is 218 pages in length with a title page, table of contents, and sections divided by major headings. It uses subheadings, bullets, graphics, and maps throughout to display the information contained within the text. The 66-page main report contains four sections and an executive summary. Nine appendices contain additional information and extensive data analyses. The SAP was developed in- house by Texas DOT's Rail Division (crossing managers now belong to the Traffic Operations Division).

Adherence to SAP Mandate

Specific Solutions

Texas DOT held a stakeholder meeting where a diverse group of local traffic engineers, railroad partners, representatives from Texas Operation Lifesaver, and staff from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), FRA, and TxDOT developed a list of action plan recommendations. The recommendations were developed under four program areas for grade crossing safety improvements: evaluation, engineering, education, and enforcement. The extensive list of action items is divided into two strategy categories: evaluation/ engineering and education/enforcement. The Texas SAP includes a section that offers an implementation timeline, where the action items are assigned to each fiscal year of the 5-year time frame.

Multiple-Crash/High-Risk Crossings

The Texas SAP contains a major data analysis section and two appendices that identify and analyze crossing locations with multiple crashes. The SAP also identifies significant findings for multiple-crash locations as part of the strategy development section and includes maps showing the location of each of the crossings that experience multiple crashes.

5-Year Period

The Texas SAP clearly focuses on the implementation of the identified action items over a 5-year period. It includes a section that offers an implementation timeline where the action items are assigned to each fiscal year of the 5-year time frame.

Findings

Major Themes

Texas has a large rail network and large number of highway-railway grade crossings. TxDOT used the knowledge and input of its many rail crossing safety partners to help facilitate the plan.

Special Conditions

Passenger and commuter rail collisions were identified and included in the SAP.

Analyses

The Texas SAP performed a tremendous amount of data analysis, virtually examining grade crossings and grade crossing collisions in the State from every angle. Additional specific analyses were performed on the multiple-collision crossings.

Texas used the data analysis to determine major findings associated with grade crossing collision locations, casualty information, and highway users . A major section also presents significant findings associated with multiple-crash locations.

Noteworthy Practices

The following are Texas's noteworthy practices:


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