Click for next page ( 30


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 29
29 Selected Case Studies crossing could change significantly in four years, the proj- of Best Practices ect selection cycle was changed in 2008 to a two-year cycle. This change was made to keep the safety analysis as close to Four states were examined in greater depth to illustrate the types real-time as possible while providing the railroads and the of strategies used to improve the project agreement process. The local highway agencies time to plan for funding. It also four were selected to illustrate different aspects of the agreement keeps the option to advance a project if another falls out of process. Some of the strategies cited relate to routine projects, the program. such as the resurfacing of crossings. Other strategies are used to The goal of the Iowa DOT is to reconstruct all at-grade rail- expedite complex grade-separation and corridor-improvement road crossings and then follow up with effective maintenance. projects. These strategies are not unique to these agencies, but Each reconstructed crossing is expected to last between 10 to they serve to illustrate the types of innovative practices that have 15 years. The life of the crossing varies depending on the vol- been deployed around the country. ume and type of traffic. The DOT field office does basic main- tenance work on a yearly basis. Iowa DOT Best Practices Iowa DOT has partnered with the railroads, cities, and counties Established Standards and Process to systematically streamline the process to resurface at-grade for Projects: Use of Best Practices railroad crossings. The Iowa process has been continually The Iowa DOT has successfully avoided agreement delays by refined since its initiation in 1976, so that today it expedites all developing with the railroad companies common standards major phases of a typical crossing project. for at-grade crossing projects. Technical aspects for the com- The Grade Crossing Surface Repair Program began in mon standards are based on UP/BNSF drawings of proper 1976 with $600,000 annually, with one-third participation subbase depth, compaction, and specifications for track panel each from the state, railroads, and local governments. The and surface material and DOT standards for all roadwork. funding increased to $900,000 and the participation changed The agency selected best practices after conducting extensive to 60/20/20 in 1983. This program funds at-grade railroad field trips and reviews of standards, materials, processes, and crossing resurfacings on a first-come, first-served basis. In practices used by other state transportation agencies. The 1998 the Crossing Committee was established with represen- Iowa DOT then brought together best practices in funding, tation from the Iowa DOT, railroads, highway authorities, staffing, equipment, material specifications, and streamlined and Wisconsin DOT. processes for rebuilding crossings. The sequence of steps The primary objective of the committee is to increase the life involved in the rebuilding of the crossings is "cookie cutter," and rideability of all crossings and to develop recommended and serves as a template that is used repeatedly on rebuilding maintenance practices for the crossings. all at-grade crossings. Streamlined Project Selection Preconstruction Meeting The Iowa DOT has addressed the delays that some states have Preconstruction meetings are held 2 to 3 weeks before the experienced in selecting and scheduling the rebuilding of at- estimated start of construction. The meetings bring together grade crossings by streamlining the project-selection process. representatives of the state, highway authority (city/county All state and local crossing projects submitted by cities and officials), railroads, businesses, school districts, and local emer- counties are prioritized by the Iowa DOT Rail office staff. gency services. Besides providing the opportunity to discuss Assessments of the condition of the crossings obtained annu- and finalize project details, these sessions also serve as a forum ally from the DOT field staff and from the railroads are used to communicate with the community and surrounding busi- in the evaluation and scoring of projects. Prioritization of nesses about road closures and detour routes. The precon- projects is based on 19 factors that include number of daily struction meetings help all parties working on the project to trains, rideability, fouled ballast, drainage pattern, rail stabil- have a clear understanding of roles, responsibilities, and sched- ity, average daily traffic, number and percentage of truck traf- ules while improving community relations. fic, speed limit, surface stability, elevation differential, cross section, surface deterioration, tie condition, approach profile, Partnership with Well-Defined and header area. Roles and Responsibilities On a first-come, first-served basis, projects are reviewed, scored, and selected. In the past, projects were selected and The Iowa DOT and the railroad each brings its equipment scheduled on a four-year cycle. Since the condition of the and crews to the project site. The roles and responsibilities

OCR for page 29
30 and sequence of steps are well-defined and both sides work Standard Agreements collaboratively to complete the project on schedule. Gener- The Iowa DOT has a simple, two-page standard agreement ally, each project takes 5 days to complete. between the agency and the railroad for rebuilding at-grade The Iowa DOT attributes the success of the program to the crossings. The agreement provides a space for the total amount collaboration between the agency and the railroads during to be reimbursed based on total lineal feet at $400 per lineal the project and beyond it. Both sides combine their skills and expertise effectively to deliver the project. foot. An Exhibit A that shows the lineal foot of surface material The DOT Design and Materials Offices bring their equip- for reimbursement purposes is attached to each agreement. ment and expertise and the railroads bring their expertise and The only change from project to project is the Exhibit A and standards for track structure. Beyond the rebuilding of the the respective total amounts to be reimbursed per project. crossing, the DOT field offices monitor crossings for mainte- The well-established Iowa process also eliminates the need nance needs and take action as necessary (milling, oiling, seal- for general liability and Railroad Protective Liability Insurance. ing) and alert the railroads when they see any loose panels or All the work is done by the DOT staff and railroad personnel, structures that need attention. so both are covered by their own self-insured coverage. Simple Agreement and Lump Sum Payment Florida DOT Best Practices A simple agreement is drawn up indicating that the agency Florida DOT officials say they have a productive and efficient will reimburse the railroads for material costs only, at the rate relationship with their railroads because they have imple- of $400 per lineal foot. This eliminates issues between the mented several best practices that serve their agency and the railroads and the DOTs on billing, tracking of actual costs, railroads well. The Florida DOT takes an approach that rec- and requirements related to audits. The agreement indicates ognizes the needs of the railroads to protect their rights-of- the total dollar amount based on total lineal feet of surface way, to protect their operations during construction, and to material and the number of inches the track will be elevated cover their costs for project reviews, say Florida DOT repre- above the existing roadway. Payment is made by the agency sentatives Fred Wise, state rail manager, and Gary Fitzpatrick, within 30 days after receiving the billing. All costs associated administrator of rail operations. with relocation or repair of existing signals, signal wires, and switches are covered by the railroads. This approach also Partnering Meetings reduces the amount of administrative work required from the railroads. The Florida DOT central office staff meets annually with CSX, A streamlined project selection process and an estimated which is by far the largest operator in the state. At the meet- project start date, coupled with a simple agreement and pay- ing, they discuss policies, pending legislation, and changes in ment process allows the DOT and the railroads to plan and business operations that could affect how the DOT and the assign resources to projects with minimal time spent on railroads cooperate on agreements. negotiations. In addition, all district rail administrators and coordina- tors meet annually with railroads as a group to discuss issues associated with project delivery, maintenance involving rail- Annual Meeting roads, and improvement projects. Before the meeting, they Relationship building and open communication were cited solicit agenda topics from districts and the central office. The repeatedly in interviews and in the survey as reasons for the central office staff say the meeting is an opportunity for train- success of projects. ing, coordination, and exchange of best practices between At the conclusion of the construction season each year, districts and the railroad staff. Iowa DOT holds meetings with each railroad. At this meeting various levels of management from the DOT and the rail- Quality Assurance Reviews roads provide an overview of surface repair projects, signal projects, and all completed and future rail projects, as well as A strategy that appears to be unique to the Florida DOT is the issues related to billing and insurance. This serves as a session conduct of quality assurance reviews. Every two years, each dis- to share information with others in the organization not trict's railroad coordination process is reviewed by the central actively involved with the crossing projects. The DOT also office staff to ensure it complies with the department's policies finds these sessions useful in reinforcing goals, roles, respon- and procedures. The review helps spread best practices, iden- sibilities, and expectations of both sides. tify new innovations, and ensure that the DOT maintains a

OCR for page 29
31 consistently productive relationship with the railroads. Any with the railroads whenever possible. They say their attitude innovations found are shared, and any shortcomings are doc- of collaboration is reciprocated by the railroads. umented for correction. Pennsylvania DOT Best Practices Master Agreements Pennsylvania DOT (PennDOT) personnel attributed constant Another strategy used by the Florida DOT is to have a stan- and open communication as an important reason for success- dardized master agreement for each project and then to use a ful projects. PennDOT has an office that acts as the liaison one-page letter modification for individual approvals. Rou- between the agency and the railroads. According to Elizabeth tine approvals such as the authorization of reviews can be Bonini, a PennDOT official and a member of the advisory panel handled with a simplified one-page form, saving the central for this project, building relationships has fostered an environ- office, the districts, and the railroads considerable time. For ment of trust. She said that her office has been able to contact each new project, a new agreement is signed, but the agree- railroad officials at all hours because of the relationship that was ments are based on routine language that the railroads and built over many years of meetings and discussions. She went on the DOT have used many times before. Throughout the course to explain that in no way does this mean that both parties agree of the project, each activity can be kept on track with the one- with each other on every topic or on the approach to resolve page approval that can be issued in a day. The DOT reports every issue, but it has created an environment where both sides that the frustrations of waiting for approvals have been largely can discuss openly, call each other and express their point of eliminated. The authority to issue the one-page approvals has view, brainstorm, and arrive at possible acceptable solutions. been devolved to the district project personnel, but with over- sight from the central office. Annual Meetings PennDOT conducts an annual meeting with each railroad. Liability Insurance The purpose of the annual meeting is to exchange information While other states said disputes periodically have arisen with the between PennDOT and the Class I railroads to meet common railroads over liability limits, the Florida DOT has standardized expectations. These meetings bring together people from dif- the approach, which the DOT officials say has addressed past ferent areas of the agency and the railroads whose understand- problems. They note that in past years when the railroads ing of project status, issues, regulations, and processes influence would try to raise liability limits above statutory minimums, the schedule and delivery of projects. These meetings enable the DOT would resist and a delay would occur. Now, they people to have face-to-face discussions. They also enable the have a letter of agreement that can be used in cases where the agency and the railroads to clarify roles, responsibilities, and railroad believes a specific location has increased risk and expectations. Attorneys from the railroads get to meet attor- warrants increased liability coverage. The DOT does not accept, neys from the Office of Chief Counsel. PennDOT's district and railroads do not request, increased liability limits at all and central office staff meet representatives at various levels locations. Instead, both parties have agreed to be judicious from the railroads' public works sections. The agency also about the higher limits and the state now agrees to the higher invites representatives from the Public Utility Commission, limits when the railroad letter of agreement provides a valid Federal Highway Administration, and the Bureau of Rail justification. Freight for these annual meetings. PennDOT's Bonini and Jack Hubbard, grade crossing engi- neer, say that the agency's central office also meets with each Collaborative Attitude district and the railroads in separate smaller, project-specific The Florida DOT does not experience the frustration that other meetings throughout the year as necessary. agencies report having with the railroads, according to Wise These meetings helped achieve the following goals. and Fitzpatrick. They describe their relationship with the rail- roads as "mature" and "excellent," the result of their under- Discuss Issues with 2008 and 2009 Projects standing and appreciation for the railroads' perspective. Although the Florida DOT's various processes have served The team discusses issues with all ongoing projects and any to simplify the project review process, its railroad coordina- delays and issues on future projects. This includes flagging, tion staff say the most important component to their good grade crossing closure plans, vertical and horizontal bridge relationship is a sense of collaboration. They say they try to clearance requirements, temporary right-of-way, and insurance understand the railroads' perspectives and to compromise and indemnification.

OCR for page 29
32 The agency briefly discusses changes in any of its practices in billing, funding, and reimbursement that may affect any and obtains feedback from the railroads. The agency also dis- ongoing or future project with the railroads. cusses billing and invoicing issues and both sides brainstorm The state also provides an overview of its billing process. It on ways to resolve them. reminds the railroads that when projects approach the 75% At the 2008 annual meeting with CSX, PennDOT reviewed agreement amount, the railroad needs to evaluate the budget. its right-of-way clearance process and time requirements and If additional funding beyond the approved amount will be obtained feedback from CSX. They discussed priority cross- required, the railroad needs to inform the agency. ings that both CSX and the agency would like closed and the This practice allows the agency to review the current status incentives that can be used. The agency also discussed billing of project funding and, if increases are required and appro- issues and invoices, including ways to speed up CSX's process priate, to approve them. Such proactive processes ensure that to review and sign railroad reimbursement agreements. the project stays on track and work is not delayed, while con- The agency staff provided an update on ongoing projects tinuing to enhance the relationship between the agency and and projects scheduled for the next year. Information sharing the railroads. about ongoing projects helps attendees not involved in a proj- ect on a day-to-day basis to get an overview. The information Update of Major State Initiatives about future projects helps the districts and the agency resolve resource conflicts and schedule meetings early in the process. The railroads provide an update of all major railroad initiatives across the nation. The update provides perspective to all at- tendees about impacts to state projects and the work being done Clarify Communication Points of Contact by the railroads in other states. This helps common under- In interviews and in the survey conducted by the project team, standing and clarifies expectations. It also provides informa- agencies mentioned that a significant amount of time was tion for resource planning. wasted in redirecting or finding documents sent to the wrong office or the incorrect person at the railroads. Railroads say Discussion on Best Practices that sometimes railroad personnel not connected to roadway projects have received repeated phone calls and requests for Having experts from various areas and different levels of the information from agency staff. Agencies mentioned issues railroad and the agency at the meeting provides an opportu- and delays arising from disconnect as a result of different peo- nity to share best practices in use in other states and railroads. ple in the agency calling the railroads about different aspects The agency staff can share practices they found useful in work- of the same project. By clarifying the communication points ing with other railroads, and the railroads can share practices of contact, the agency minimizes such issues. and processes that they found helpful in working with other state or local agencies or within PennDOT. At the 2008 annual meeting, CSX shared a practice used by Legal Issues one of the PennDOT districts that starts the process for obtain- A railroad attorney noted that his staff reviews state agree- ing the utility commission's order for advertising early in the ments on a first-in basis because they have received no order process. This practice helped expedite the overall project. of priority from the agency. Even if a later document requires Another practice discussed was that some districts provided only minimal review, it will wait in order because the agency has preliminary engineering agreements before receiving the Pub- indicated no order of priority for reviews. By having the legal lic Utility Commission agreement while others did not, causing officials from the state and the railroads at the annual meeting project delays. The discussion highlighted some inconsistencies and by setting aside time to discuss legal issues, several issues in practices across districts that led to project delays. By shar- such as the above, are resolved quickly. Additionally, both sides ing and discussing information about the practice, other dis- get to know each other. This has enabled the state legal team to tricts got to know about the efficiencies and agreed to adopt call the railroad attorney and vice versa to expedite document the practice. review. Clarifications are also simplified when both sides can call and talk with each other. This practice reduced the time to Grade Crossing Electronic Document get the necessary legal reviews and approvals to start projects. Management System PennDOT has deployed a Grade Crossing Electronic Doc- Reimbursements ument Management System (GCEDMS) that has stream- The attendees discuss reimbursements and resolve pending lined various operations within the agency. Besides helping issues. The state also discusses changes or expected changes PennDOT manage all its grade crossing projects within the

OCR for page 29
33 agency, the software helps the railroads working on agency processes that led to better coordination and communica- projects. Jack Hubbard, PennDOT grade crossing engineer, tion, both within the agency and with the railroads. Accord- says GCEDMS will help the railroads as they work on proj- ing to Ahmer Nizam, a project advisory panel member and ects with PennDOT. Some of the benefits are the following: WSDOT headquarters railroad liaison, open communica- tions, understanding each other's perspective, and the busi- Virtual visit to project site. The railroads can view up-to- ness goals of both organizations enable both sides to work date photographs with location maps of public highway toward acceptable solutions. rail crossings, along with all the FRA crossing inventory WSDOT understands and accounts for the fact that BNSF's information. business goals and customer obligations prohibit track work Access to the latest project information and documenta- in the fourth quarter of the year. The agency also knows that tion. If the railroad is involved with a specific highwayrail there is increasing demand for rail transportation and that the safety project or highwaybridge project involving a rail- railroads are making more capital improvements. Conse- road facility, it will be able to view most of the information quently, the railroads have a policy to preserve capacity within and documentation stored within the system about that the rail corridors, and the agency understands that it must project. consider this policy when working on expansion of existing Project monitoring. The railroad can monitor the progress structures or building new roads around railroads. WSDOT of projects in which they are involved from initial develop- is currently rebuilding and repairing a larger number of older ment and design through construction and closeout. structures and roads. It also is expanding the highway net- Quick access to additional resources. The application pro- work. Therefore, an unprecedented number of state highway vides links to various key resources almost serving as a single projects are impacting railroad operations. Class I railroads one-stop shop for relevant information. This includes key in Washington provide specific design standards for highway links to other agency websites (for example, FRA, FHWA, improvements around railroads, and WSDOT advises its MUTCD, PennDOT, and PUC). project offices to incorporate these standards to the extent Future single source of all inventory information. Pro- possible early in design phases. posed major enhancements to the system include allowing WSDOT understands that there will be many issues and the railroads to update their FRA railroad inventory infor- differences with respect to acceptable legal language, design, mation within the system along with its GIS mapping. and other requirements, and that there will be many areas of Potential enhancements are expected where PennDOT's disagreement on both sides; but continuing to work through information will synchronize with FRA when it is updated. the differences toward resolution has been the focus of the Simplistically, this will mean that updating GCEDMS agency. will translate to updating FRA systems and that users of Nizam notes that streamlining the railroad processes for GCEDMS will have the latest FRA updated information. engineering and legal review and establishing a mechanism Currently, state and federal systems are not integrated in any where the railroad reviewer is prompted to contact the WSDOT way, and in the majority of cases, the data in each of these if there are questions or concerns regarding a submittal will go systems are different, thus making it challenging for users to a long way to expedite project work between the railroad and work with them. This enhancement will be of great benefit the agency. to railroad personnel, who will in the future be able to access The agency has several best practices that have helped keep the updated information through GCEDMS. agency projects on track and could be adopted by other state transportation agencies, with minor changes. Most software deployments are preceded by business process streamlining and improvements, as was the case with the Centralized Railroad Coordination deployment of GCEDMS in PennDOT. The use of the soft- Within the Agency ware will help railroads and the agency to have a common understanding about projects and also manage projects more WSDOT has centralized all coordination on highway projects efficiently. with the railroads for about 30 years. WSDOT has seven regions, all working on different projects that involve the rail- roads. Without centralized coordination each region would Washington State DOT Best Practices be communicating with the railroads, trying to get their proj- The Washington State Department of Transportation ects the highest priority. This not only could cause schedul- (WSDOT) is considered to be one of the transportation agen- ing challenges but also would waste time and resources. In cies with good business practices and success in working with such a scenario, the railroads would have to deal with the task the railroads. The agency has made improvements to business of prioritizing agency projects.

OCR for page 29
34 Centralized coordination allows the agency to prioritize Annual Design and Construction Conferences projects according to agency goals. It also ensures that there WSDOT has an annual design and construction conference is consistency in negotiations, policies, design, agreements, where central office and region staffs meet. At this meeting and all aspects of work on agency projects involving railroads. the teams discuss projects and address issues on all WSDOT This consistency significantly reduces the time taken on indi- projects. They discuss the challenges encountered and share vidual tasks. information about how the challenges were resolved and the Centralized coordination has helped the agency by pro- lessons learned. All aspects of any railroad project that needs viding consistency in agreements and design across railroad special attention is also discussed at this meeting. projects. There is more efficient use of personnel and engi- The meeting is an information-gathering and information- neering expertise across projects when there is consistency sharing opportunity for all WSDOT personnel. Agency person- in design and agreements. The regions communicate with nel who attend other national conferences share information the central project office on all railroad projects. The steps about best practices from other states that may impact involved in project planning, development, and design are WSDOT. In 2007, information shared included changes to uniform across all regions. The regions provide updates on land use planning adjacent to railways, risk analysis method- project status and have to notify the central coordination ologies, federal initiatives, and information on specific engi- office of all future projects at least one year ahead of time. neering treatment and case studies. The annual conference is This formal and consistent process across regions also helps another forum for participants to provide updates on evolv- the central coordination office prioritize and plan projects in ing engineering practices, trends, and policy initiatives at the a timely manner. federal level that may have an impact or be useful to WSDOT. Internal Partnering Full-Time Railroad Person Another best practice in WSDOT is the internal partnering Dedicated to WSDOT Projects that exists within the agency on all highway projects. Accord- Most Class I railroads have a public projects manager (PPM) ing to WSDOT personnel, the agency approaches the railroad who is responsible for coordinating work between the state as a single agency rather than as separate divisions. All the ini- and local agencies and the railroads. These project managers tial coordination between the agency and the railroad for often are responsible for large territories covering many states. highway projects is done by the central railroad coordination During interviews, state agency personnel identified the busy office. As the project matures, the central office person is schedules of the public projects managers as one of the rea- virtually integrated with the regional team on coordinating sons for the long turnaround time on reviews. This also was between the agency and the railroad. attributed to causing delays in scheduling meetings with rail- Nizam says that this virtual integration ensures continuity road engineers and attorneys. The agency personnel said that of communication and coordination on the project and is one it sometimes takes several months for a PPM to respond to a of the reasons for successful projects. The partnering of com- simple question and the delay may cost the agency more than munication and coordination with the technical aspects of the the cost of funding a PPM position. project is vital to keeping the project on track. In WSDOT The Class I railroads explain that they operate as a business there is no time lost handing off tasks from one office of the where each section/division has to be independently prof- agency to another. itable. The railroads understand that sometimes review back- The central office real estate services negotiate property logs delay highway agencies. However, the uncertainty of future management (easement and right-of-way) with the Class I workloads constrains the expansion of public project staffs. railroads, while the region coordinates with short lines on WSDOT has addressed the issue by funding a position at right-of-way issues. The regional utility engineer provides BNSF dedicated to agency projects. This dedicated railroad the coordination required on utility aspects of the projects, person is responsible for expediting and coordinating reviews except for megaprojects where the region dedicates a full- and scheduling face-to-face or phone meetings between the time utility coordinator to manage the complexity and volume railroad and WSDOT to help expedite reviews and approvals of utility design/coordination required in such large projects. of new agreements. This person does the necessary liaison All detailed engineering work is coordinated and supervised work for the railroad attorneys, clarifies questions, compares by the region itself. new agreements with older agreements, and makes sure that This transparent partnering brings together the best of the railroads' interests are not compromised. The person also coordination, communication, technical and design expertise, schedules regular monthly meetings and more frequent meet- and project management, achieving project goals while accom- ings if necessary to follow up on all railroad-related action plishing the overall agency goals. items to keep projects on track.