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3 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION At start-up, new light rail transit (LRT) operating systems typ- 35 mph. TCRP Report 69, published in 2001, documents and ically experience undesirable frequencies of light rail vehicle presents the results of a comprehensive study to improve the (LRV)motor vehicle collisions, particularly where motor safety of LRT in semi-exclusive rights-of-way where LRVs vehicles cross LRT tracks located in or adjacent to highway operate at speeds greater than 35 mph. The analysis presented intersections that are controlled by conventional traffic signals. in this report is based on interviews with LRT agency officials, Over time, as agencies have gained experience with LRT oper- field observations, and analysis of accident records and acci- ations, they have addressed the problems by making changes dent rates at 11 LRT systems in the United States and Canada. to pavement markings, signs, signals, street geometrics, oper- The report presents guidelines that may be considered in plan- ating procedures, and training programs. This report is a syn- ning and designing new LRT systems or in retrofitting and thesis of today's state of the practice with regard to mitigating extending existing LRT systems. collisions between LRVs and motor vehicles at signalized intersections. This synthesis will help transit agencies to better The research for TCRP Report 17 and TCRP Report 69 was understand and to learn from the experiences of other agencies conducted more than 7 and 12 years ago, respectively. Since facing similar challenges. that time, many of the systems interviewed for these studies have expanded, and other new systems have begun service or are about to begin service. Thus, the research conducted for OBJECTIVE this synthesis report identified the current state of the practice by focusing primarily on studies that have been conducted The objective of this study was to report on the mitigation since these earlier studies, while using the results from these methods tested and used by transit agencies to reduce collisions earlier studies as a baseline. between LRVs and motor vehicles where LRT runs through or adjacent to highway intersections controlled by conventional Two additional and particularly relevant sources referenced traffic signals, with a particular focus on collisions occurring throughout this synthesis include a research paper, Median between LRVs and vehicles making left turns at these inter- Light Rail Crossings: Accident Causation and Counter- sections. This synthesis includes success stories and specific measures (3) and the METRORail Traffic Safety Assessment actions taken to achieve positive results, as well as examples (4), both of which offer insight into the issues surrounding of unsuccessful actions. The issues addressed include a range LRVmotor vehicle collisions at signalized intersections, as of LRT operations and environments (median-running, side- well as a variety of countermeasures for mitigating these types running, contra-flow, and mixed-use LRT alignments), urban of collisions. and suburban settings, and a variety of U.S. geographic regions. To supplement the recent relevant literature, a survey of TECHNICAL APPROACH LRT systems was undertaken. The surveys were administered by means of the telephone in the form of structured interviews. The technical approach for this synthesis project included a Structured telephone interviews were chosen over a written review of recent relevant literature, as well as a survey of survey for a number of reasons. First, considering the topic, it selected light rail systems. Regarding the relevant literature, was important to obtain detailed information about particular two documents form the basis for improving light rail safety problematic intersections, collision circumstances, measures within city streets and in semi-exclusive rights-of-way: TCRP taken to mitigate the collisions, and effectiveness of the Report 17: Integration of Light Rail Transit into City Streets countermeasures. Structured telephone interviews allowed (1) and TCRP Report 69: Light Rail Service: Pedestrian and the researchers to probe those being surveyed for more com- Vehicular Safety (2). TCRP Report 17, published in 1996, was plete responses, resulting in more detailed and comprehensive a comprehensive study of 10 LRT systems across North Amer- information. Second, although there are more than 30 agencies ica, and included a literature review, structured interviews of that operate rail systems in semi-exclusive or mixed traffic the transit agencies, accident analyses, and recommendations environments, only approximately 20 are LRT systems (as for improving safety of LRT operations within city streets. It opposed to trolley or street car systems), and of these systems, addresses the safety and operating experience of LRT systems only about 15 were appropriate to include in this study (one operating on shared rights-of-way at speeds generally less than system had no operating history, with an opening day of