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7 C H A P T E R 2 Research Approach The research project began with the formation of a team of vet- The standard provisions that some states have developed eran state highway and Class I railroad personnel. A project in conjunction with the railroads to be included in all advisory panel was formed to meet at critical points of the proj- construction contracts that involve railroad rights-of- ect. The panel consisted of three public projects managers of way; Class I railroads, five state transportation agency rail project The public project manuals and information provided by coordinators, and representatives from the Federal Highway the Class I railroads; Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Railroad Adminis- The standard drawings and construction requirements tration (FRA). The panel met early in the project to identify that some of the Class I railroads provide to highway common issues, to assemble an initial list of best practices, and agencies; to approve survey language. The standard agreements and permits that some of the A survey was sent to all 50 state DOTs and to more than Class I railroads provide to access railroad rights-of-way or 350 local governments nationwide. It asked respondents to to install pipe and wire crossings; identify common problems and to rank potential best practices Federal statutes and their related Code of Federal Regu- for their effectiveness. Respondents also were asked to iden- lations; tify federal regulations and practices that could be changed to Guidance from FHWA and FRA; improve the project review and project agreement processes. Policy positions of the Association of American Railroads; The project team members reviewed the processes and stan- National highway design standards pertaining to railroads; dard agreements used by the seven Class I railroads. Six of the Studies on the legal and economic history of American seven agreed to extensive interviews, which further clarified the railroads; railroad practices. During the interviews, the Class I railroads Recommended practices for project management, partner- were asked to further evaluate best practices and to list strate- ing, and process improvement from groups such as the gies to expedite the review and agreement processes. Project Management Institute and the Baldrige National Five of the national engineering firms that conduct project Quality Program; and reviews on behalf of the Class I railroads also were inter- Studies and practices related to Environmental Streamlining. viewed. Because these firms provide engineering services for both highway agencies and the Class I railroads, they had par- The interviews, advisory panel meeting, and literature ticular insight into how both entities approach the project- review provided an initial list of recommended best practices. development process. These best practices then were included in the survey for eval- Twelve state DOTs were interviewed in depth about the uation by the survey respondents. There was a high correla- best practices they have developed. tion between the best practices identified by the advisory An extensive body of material was reviewed, including the panel and the interviews with the rankings made by the sur- following: vey respondents. These practices then were ranked in terms of their perceived effectiveness. State manuals for the railroad coordination process; In the second phase of the project, the team developed Standard project agreements used throughout the country model agreements and processes and identified mechanisms by railroads and highway agencies; by which model agreements and processes can be maintained Master agreements that have been developed in some states; and updated.