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5 C H A P T E R 1 Background The Problem Statement definitive compilations of past performance. In many cases, the research team found no common definitions, performance The objectives of this project were to measures, or performance baselines between the states or railroads. Calculating length or cost of delays is thus extremely · Identify strategies and institutional arrangements that will challenging. facilitate beneficial relationships between railroad compa- This report presents the perspectives of the state and the nies and public agencies; railroads on the project agreement process. Drawing from · Investigate and develop innovative partnering techniques interviews and a survey, the report describes the perceived whereby railroads and the highway community can work problems associated with the agreement process, as well as the cooperatively; best practices that should be embraced to improve it. · Develop a draft model agreement and streamlined permit- ting processes; and · Identify barriers to an effective agreement process and Types of Projects and propose remedies. Types of Agreements In the United States, more than 500 railroads operate more than Highway agencies and railroad companies agree that the project review and project agreement processes can be 140,000 miles of railway. These railways intersect more than improved. For this research project, more than 50 practitioners 150,000 times with more than 4 million miles of public roads. from highway agencies and railroads across the country were During the course of road maintenance and construction proj- interviewed, and many more were surveyed. There was consen- ects, the public agencies that manage these highways need to sus among them that delays in project reviews and project work with the railroad companies whose railways are crossed by agreements were common. All respondents cited instances the highways. in which either highway agency applicants or railroads con- The types of projects that the public agencies need to conduct tributed to delays. Most, however, were circumspect and were tend to fall generally into the following categories: hesitant to appear critical of their counterparts, with whom they must continue working. Both highway agency representatives · Improving at-grade crossings, such as resurfacing the and railroad officials appeared willing to acknowledge that approaches; occasionally their own agencies were the cause of the delays. · Installing automatic flashing lights and gates or other They would acknowledge that not all parties in their agencies safety improvements at at-grade crossings; were always punctual, complete, or cooperative with the other · Building longitudinal encroachments when parallel high- parties. The anecdotes and observations were consistent that the ways are improved and other projects, such as drainage parties believed improvement is possible and needed. ditches and structures, that interact with adjacent railway A baseline for current performance, needed to direct and property; track improvement, does not exist, however. The highway · Constructing new overhead or under-grade structures when agencies, railroads, and some state departments of transporta- at-grade crossings are improved with grade separations; tion (DOTs) have their own internal goals and performance · Reconstructing or rebuilding an existing grade separation measures for how promptly they want reviews and agreements either overhead or under-grade where additional highway to be conducted. However, the research team did not find capacity is needed;
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6 · Realigning track configurations to allow adjacent highway governments may interact with the railroads only sporadically capacity or alignment improvements; because the local governments have fewer projects than do state · Maintaining existing highway bridges that cross over rail- DOTs. Therefore, the execution of standard processes for agree- roads; and ments tends to vary significantly. This variation in execution lies · Installing pipe or wire crossings parallel to, perpendicular to, at the heart of this research. beneath, or overhead of the railroad when those utilities are Note that in this report, "memorandum of understanding" new, upgraded, or required to accommodate an adjacent refers to an agreement that is not legally binding, such as an highway expansion. agreement between the parties to adopt a partnering process. "Memorandum of agreement" and "standard agreement" are The seven Class I railroads and the highway agencies have used in this report when contractual elements are included in interacted on such projects for decades. They have developed the agreement, such as an agreement to pay for engineering their respective standard agreements, processes, and protocols reviews. Highway agencies generally need contracts to be in to address their regular interactions. However, the individu- place before they can expend funds. Memoranda of agreement als who manage these interactions tend to change because of include provisions that allow for the payment for services. retirements, promotions, or transfers. Public agencies turn Memoranda of understanding only reflect a shared desire to over staff regularly through administrative changes. Local cooperate in regard to specific functions.