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88 A P P E N D I X B Analysis of Survey Results Survey of State involved with general roadway and bridge projects, followed and Local Agencies by Section 130 project managers (23). Section 130 projects are federally funded rail safety projects, such as the installation of A web-based survey was designed to query state and local lights and gates. Figure B.2 shows that respondents covered all transportation agencies about best practices, streamlined major functions; their responses should reflect perspectives in processes, and challenges in the relationship between state all the relevant subject areas. and local agencies and railroads. An e-mail message with a More than 25% of the respondents handled more than link to the survey was sent to each state department of trans- 100 projects in the past 3 years, while more than 50% handled portation and to each member of the project advisory panel. more than 30 projects (Figure B.3). This information indicates Approximately 400 local transportation officials were sent that the survey respondents were actively involved in proj- an explanatory letter about the survey, which included a link ects with the railroads and that the feedback should provide a to it. good representation of practices, agreements, and issues in the The survey listed 27 suggested best practices that the team working relationship between railroads and local and state had identified during earlier research stages. It asked each transportation agencies. respondent to indicate if they used any of the listed 27 practices Agencies interact with multiple railroads. Figure B.4 shows and to rate their effectiveness. It also asked for additional best that 20 respondents interact with the short-line railroads. practices. The survey asked if the responding agency had any Eighteen work with Union Pacific Railroad (UP), and 16 work metrics to measure the effectiveness of agency best practices with BNSF Railway. This may mean that the overall responses on railroad approval time frames or cost. It provided respon- received through this survey may be more influenced by the dents the opportunity to do a self-assessment rating of their interactions of agencies with the short lines and UP and BNSF. agency's performance in submitting plans and submittals that Figure B.5 indicates that about 30% of the respondents addressed railroad needs in review of projects. It requested were local agencies and the remaining were state agencies. The agency perspectives on reasons for successful and unsuccessful Illinois Commerce Commission is a non-DOT state agency project reviews. It provided an opportunity for responding that responded to the survey and has been counted as a state agencies to list specific issues in coordination between railroads agency. and highway agencies that needed to be addressed. It also asked agencies if they had problems with indemnification or liability Effectiveness Rating of insurance. Various Best Practices Overall there were 39 responses. Of these, 27 were from state departments of transportation, 11 were from cities, and one Table B.1 shows the best practices and their effectiveness. The response was from a state commerce commission. The follow- practices with the top votes as "excellent" are shown bracketed ing section discusses the survey questions and the responses in bold and in rank order in the "excellent" column. The top received. practices rated as "good" are also bracketed. In general, the Most respondents were DOT program managers, railroad most highly ranked practices related to communication and coordinators, or local program managers (Figure B.1). The shared expectations. Six of the top eight most highly rated best respondents were involved in multiple railroad coordination practices related to having central points of contact, clear functions (Figure B.2). Most of the respondents (34) were scopes for reviews, and frequent, ongoing communication.

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89 Other 3 Real Estate Manager 0 Railroad 10 Coordinator Local Government 10 Program Manager Local Government Other Railroad 20 4 Project Manager DOT Program Manager 20 Canadian Pacific 4 DOT Project Manager 2 Canadian National 3 0 10 20 30 KCS 4 Number Figure B.1. Role of respondents. NS 6 CSX 7 BNSF 16 Funding of Railroad 12 Capacity Projects UP 18 Railroad Inspections 15 and Safety 0 5 10 15 20 25 General Roadway and Responses 34 Bridge Projects Figure B.4. Number of survey respondents who Section 130 Projects 23 interact with each railroad. 0 20 40 Number Figure B.2. Respondents' functions. Local Agencies 11 State Agencies 28 More than 100 11 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Responses Between 31 and 100 10 Figure B.5. State versus local responses. Between 11 and 30 7 Fewer than 10 11 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Number of Responses Figure B.3. Number of projects addressed.

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90 The top-ranked "acceptable" strategies also are highlighted also identified in interviews as a best practice. It was rated with brackets. excellent by several states and local agencies. It relates to con- duct of a specific safety diagnostic analysis of a crossing before lights, gates, and other safety measures are deployed. Although Have a DOT Central ranked as a good practice, the issue was not cited as a frequent Point of Contact cause of project delay. "Have a DOT Central Point of Contact" is one of two practices that tied for the most highly rated practice overall, with 22 Establish Ongoing Formal respondents rating it as an "excellent" or "good" practice. This Communication Channels high ranking in the survey was validated in interviews with state Between the Highway DOTs. It was also rated high during discussions about best prac- Agency and the Railroad tices at the first advisory panel meeting and in interviews with state rail coordinators and with the railroad personnel. "Open Communication: Establish Ongoing Formal Commu- Washington DOT has established a process of having a cen- nication Channels Between the Highway Agency and the Rail- tral point of contact who works with the districts to coordinate road" received the second highest number of responses as and prioritize agency projects and activities with the railroads. "excellent." In interviews with state transportation agencies, The district takes over the lead role once the project construc- this practice was identified as one of the essential elements to tion work begins. This model of operation ensures that all ini- successful workings between the railroads and the state trans- tial coordination and agreements are completed with the right portation agencies. people being involved at the right time. Once the project work This practice was listed as a reason for success of projects and begins, the district responsible for the project takes the lead and reviews. Open communication was cited as one of the key ele- the central office point of contact plays a support role while still ments for good working relationships between railroads and being actively involved with the project. This allows the district state transportation agencies. Agencies such as the Pennsylva- and the technical experts to work on the details of the project nia DOT and Washington DOT attributed meetings and ongo- while the central point of contact remains informed about ing communications to facilitating easier exchange of ideas, progress. By having the district lead the day-to-day project expediting revisions to agreements, expediting approvals, and work, the agency ensures that additional approvals from cen- building trust between the teams. Open communication was tral office do not add time to the project schedule or cause attributed as being especially helpful when the teams disagreed additional delays. with each other on projects, schedules, agreements, billing, or In this model, the central office handles all communication processes. Some agencies in the survey and interviews noted and coordination on project tasks, prioritizes project sched- that agency personnel sometimes avoided scheduling meetings ules, and ensures that agreements and approvals are on sched- to avoid confrontations when there was a difference of opinion ule while the district technical contacts work directly to resolve or ideas between the teams. technical issues and keep the project work on schedule. This One of the respondents in the survey noted, "Sometimes, an model enables the central point of contact to help with any adversarial relationship develops between the railroad and the additional coordination required between the central office highway agency on some projects. Some DOT project man- and the railroad when required. Examples of agencies using agers try to avoid having to deal with the railroad, if possible." this practice are the Florida, Nebraska, Iowa, Washington, In agencies where open communication was integrated into the Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Texas, New Mexico, and Ohio workings between agency and railroad personnel, both teams DOTs; the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Depart- often found workable solutions to challenges. ment; and the Illinois Commerce Commission. Although the railroads were not asked to participate in the Have One Empowered survey, in separate interviews the railroad personnel also Railroad Point of Contact to strongly supported having a central point of contact in the Coordinate Project Issues DOTs. "Have One Empowered Railroad Point of Contact to Coor- dinate Project Issues" received the third highest number of Conduct Formal response as "excellent." This also corroborated agency feed- Crossing Diagnostics back during interviews that having multiple points of con- The second of the two practices that tied for highest number tact in the railroads created confusion and delays. It led to of responses for an "excellent" practice was "Conduct Formal inconsistency in dealing with project issues and to waste of Crossing Diagnostics." This practice was one that the railroads resources. Railroad personnel noted that this approach led to

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91 Practice and Its Effectiveness Excellent Good Acceptable Poor N/A 1 Have DOT Central Point of Contact. Have one empowered point of contact at DOT to coordinate railroad project issues. 12 10 7 3 5 2 Conduct Formal Crossing Diagnostics. Do not program a crossing project without a formal diagnostic study. 12 9 6 2 8 3 Open Communication. Establish ongoing formal communication channels between the highway agency and the railroad. 11 10 8 6 1 4 Have One Railroad Point of Contact. Have one empowered point of contact at the railroad to coordinate project issues. 10 13 6 5 3 5 Require Early Scoping. Require early predesign scoping on project concept between railroad and DOT. 9 14 7 3 5 6 Have Preliminary Engineering Agreements. Have formal agreements that allow railroads to be compensated for engineering advice during preliminary development--even if a project is not eventually constructed. 8 5 7 3 13 7 Schedule Regular Meetings. Have standing monthly or quarterly meetings-- in person or via phone or video--to address project schedules with the railroads. 8 8 7 6 8 8 Have Formal Points of Concurrence. Establish agreed-on, regular points of coordination, review, and concurrence between DOT and railroad on projects. 8 16 5 4 4 9 Use Experienced Engineering Firms. Select only engineering firms that have extensive railroad experience. 4 12 10 1 10 10 Standard Plan Notes. Ensure railroad construction requirements are included in DOT plans. 5 12 10 1 9 11 Require Preconstruction Meetings. Require a preconstruction meeting between contractors, DOT, and railroad for any significant project. 5 10 13 1 6 12 Hold Regional Conferences. Bring neighboring states and railroads together to share best practices, common issues. 2 10 4 8 12 13 Dedicate Personnel for Reviews. Have dedicated personnel either in the railroad or with outside contract engineering firms to focus solely on highway project reviews. 6 10 13 3 5 14 Coordinate Projects for Locals. Have the DOT coordinate railroad reviews and submittals for the local governments. 2 9 11 5 9 15 Ongoing Reviews. Require reviews at the 30%, 60%, and 90% plan stage. 5 9 13 3 6 16 Master Agreements. Develop programmatic approaches between railroads and states. 6 8 8 3 12 17 Standard Billing Agreements. Have you streamlined or standardized the billing process with the railroads? 6 9 9 4 8 18 Hold Annual Meeting. At least annually have the DOT and railroad staffs meet to identify common needs, approaches. 7 7 6 7 9 19 Enact Statutes to Close Crossings. Enact state statutes that reward, encourage, or require closures whenever possible. 7 7 9 2 11 20 Programmatic Right of Entry Agreements. Develop standard agreements for routine right of entry for processes such as bridge inspections. 6 4 4 9 13 21 Have Standard Review Times. Have the DOT and railroad agree on standard review times for submittals. 5 6 7 7 11 22 Prequalify Firms. Develop additional prequalification for engineering firms to ensure they have railroad expertise. 0 6 10 1 18 Table B.1. Best Practices and Their Effectiveness (continued on next page)

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92 Practice and Its Effectiveness Excellent Good Acceptable Poor N/A 23 Education. Require education for DOT project managers and other employees to ensure they understand railroad requirements. 2 6 14 3 11 24 Produce Manuals. Provide DOT staff procedure manuals on how to prepare acceptable railroad plans and submittals. 1 8 11 5 11 25 Develop Escalation Procedures. Have agreed-on escalation path to resolve issues that cannot be solved at lower staff level. 4 3 9 8 12 26 Reengineer Section 130 Program. Because railroad grade crossing counter- measures are often similar, reengineer the state's Section 130 process to standardize and streamline it between the DOT and the railroad. 2 6 7 5 16 27 Use NHI Course. Send staff to NHI course on railroad crossing projects. 0 4 9 7 16 Table B.1. Best Practices and Their Effectiveness (continued). railroad staff receiving calls from state agency personnel further delays. One of the agencies in the survey noted, "When regarding projects about which they had no knowledge. comments and needs are expressed early and are consistent Often the railroad person receiving the call had no involve- throughout the development of the project, [it] leads to a more ment or information about the project and would have to successful outcome." redirect the calls. Besides being a waste of time, it often led to confusion and difficulty in prioritizing project needs and Preliminary Engineering often caused project delays. Agreements The business model of the railroad did not involve having separate engineering and technical staff devoted to public proj- Three practices tied for the fifth highest number of responses ects. Often the same divisions within the railroads worked on rated as "excellent." One of the three is the practice of having both public and internal projects. Most Class I railroads have preliminary engineering agreements that allow railroads to a public project manager who coordinates the work between be compensated for engineering advice during preliminary the agencies and the railroads. Prioritization of project work development, even if the project is not eventually constructed. was also done by the public project manager, an area outside At the advisory panel meeting, there was much brainstorm- the railroad technical team. Because of this separation of the ing and discussion about this practice and overwhelming railroad technical team, direct calls to them from state and support to change the regulations that covered how and when local transportation agency staff often did not result in good railroads could be compensated for preliminary engineering responses. Having an empowered railroad point of contact work. The advisory panel in its first meeting discussed the helped coordinate public works within the different areas of fact that the railroads as a private business had to charge for the railroad and made for smoother and quicker information the hours of work done irrespective of the final decision to flow. Agencies that had a single or few designated points of construct a project. Several states have said FHWA will not contact with the railroads reported it was easier to revise sched- allow compensating the railroads until the final agreement is ules and project priorities if a situation required shuffling of signed. Many projects in the preliminary stages never get to priorities. construction or have a final agreement signed. Railroads never get compensated for such work. One of the railroads discussed having hundreds of thousands of dollars of uncom- Require Early Scoping pensated expenses attributed to its public projects division as "Require Early Scoping" received the fourth highest number of a result. responses as "excellent." This practice enables both sides to The participants at the advisory panel meeting felt that in bring up differences and concerns early in the process. It was view of the project objective to smooth relationships and devise also one factor that helped eliminate or change alternatives that mitigation strategies to improve the workings between rail- either railroads or the agencies had strong reservations about. roads and local and state transportation agencies, this issue It often helped minimize the so-called "being held hostage to needed to be resolved and a better and simpler mechanism last-minute decisions," in which concessions are demanded to compensate railroads for preliminary engineering work late in a project when the project sponsor cannot afford needed to be devised.

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93 Railroads, like other private businesses, are accountable for Experienced Engineering Firms" was rated "good" by a third profitability of their unit and operations. There is a natural of the respondents. This practice was unanimously supported inclination to focus on work that brings in revenue versus work by the six Class I railroads that were interviewed as well. They that will not be compensated. The state agency representatives repeatedly noted that one of the most common causes of proj- as well as the railroads felt strongly that the inability to pay for ect delays and disagreements is receiving incomplete or unac- preliminary engineering reviews was one cause of discordance ceptable plans from an engineering firm that is unfamiliar with and delays between railroads and transportation agencies. the railroads. They noted that local communities often hire FHWA officials indicated later that they are initiating a review local engineering firms, which are not always experienced with of the policy. railroad practices. The issue of including standard plan notes involves incor- porating into bid documents standard "boilerplate" railroad Schedule Regular Meetings requirements that can involve issues such as flagging, main- "Schedule Regular Meetings" is the second of the three prac- tenance of traffic during construction, adherence to rail- tices that received the fifth highest number of responses as road safety standards, and other such standard requirements. "excellent." This was also identified as a good practice during When railroads and the highway agencies agree on such interviews with the Class I railroads. The railroads identified standard language, it can be included in all project agree- this practice as one of the factors in expediting reviews and ments and bid documents without requiring additional legal approvals on projects. They noted that the frequency of the review. The standardization saves time on project reviews conference calls varied from biweekly to monthly to quarterly and reduces legal costs. Such standard provisions also clarify depending on the maturity and progress of projects. These the bid process by informing contractors as to what require- scheduled calls helped address project issues and schedules ments they can expect during construction. Not only did the and enabled timely correction on activities that were off- highway agencies rate this as a good practice, it was repeat- schedule. edly endorsed by the railroad public project personnel and the railroad attorneys. Have Formal Points of Concurrence Overall Highest Recommended Practices "Have Formal Points of Concurrence" is the last of three practices that received the fifth highest number of responses Following is a list of the top five practices with the highest num- as "excellent." This practice helps to ensure adequate com- ber of combined responses for "good" or "excellent" rating. munication and shared understanding of progress by both 1. Have one railroad point of contact and have formal points railroads and the highway agencies. Generally, the points of of concurrence; coordination and concurrence were recommended to be at 2. Require early scoping; the preliminary planning stage, at 30% plan completion, 60% 3. Have one empowered DOT central point of contact; completion, and 90% completion. These four stages allow for 4. Open communication: Establish ongoing formal commu- early agreement on the preliminary concept scope, and then nication channels between the highway agency and the rail- further concurrence as that general scope translates into an road; and increasingly detailed set of project plans. 5. Conduct formal crossing diagnostics before programming a crossing project. Top Five Practices Rated "Good" Lowest-Scoring Practices The following practices rated as the top five "good" practices: Three practices received the lowest scores when combining the total number of responses rating a practice as "good" or 1. Have formal points of concurrence; "excellent": 2. Require early scoping; 1. Use National Highway Institute courses; 3. Have one railroad point of contact; 2. Prequalify firms; and 4. Use experienced engineering firms; and 3. Develop escalation procedures. 5. Standard plan notes included in DOT plans. A National Highway Institute course on highway/railroad Three of the five top practices that were rated "good" prac- grade crossing is offered. It includes instruction on managing tices were also among the top rated "excellent" practices. "Use different types of grade crossing projects.

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94 The issue of prequalification involved the concept of devel- Standard Agreement and oping an additional set of qualifications for firms to be con- Memorandum of Understanding sidered for highway/railroad projects. Nearly all firms that Illinois DOT: It reports that master agreements have helped propose on highway projects need to be prequalified by their reduce the processing times of agreements, although there state highway agencies. This suggestion was that an additional still are delays in approval of bridge plans and returning set of prequalifications should be developed to further screen signed agreements. out firms that do not have explicit expertise in dealing with the Montana DOT: It is currently in the early stages of develop- railroads. Such additional prequalification had been suggested ing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with BNSF. by some railroad personnel. This MOU will define standard railroad agreements and The issue of escalation procedures is common in "partner- project review and approval times. ing," but was not highly rated by the survey respondents. It Louisiana DOT: It has a master agreement for at-grade involves understanding how long project reviews or other deci- crossings that helps its coordination process. sions are to take. If participants cannot reach agreement on project issues within a set period, they would have to escalate the issue to higher level officials within their organizations. The Regular Meetings and Open Communication strategy is incorporated into partnering agreements to let both Minnesota DOT: It reports that it tries to maintain good sides understand at what point an impasse is no longer accept- relationships by meeting as frequently as possible with the able and the issue should be elevated for resolution. railroads. Louisiana DOT: It reports that it is essential to maintain Other Identified good and ongoing communication with the railroads. Best Practices Alaska DOT: It notes that its good communications with its railroad and the fact that it has only one railroad to deal with Respondents were given the opportunity to identify other makes good coordination possible. best practices that they may have developed in addition to Arizona DOT: It reports that it hosts monthly meetings with the 27 suggested in the survey. The following summarizes the the railroad, involving state and local government agencies 24 additional best practices that respondents reported they to assist on their projects. It also interacts with other state have developed. agencies and road authorities to help them understand the railroad coordination process. Staff Expertise, Mature Processes, Florida DOT: It notes that it pursues open communication and Dedicated Railroad Personnel and good working relationships between its department and railroads. Iowa DOT: Iowa has developed an effective primary high- Nebraska DOT: It reports that the major best practice is to way crossing surface program implemented with an expe- have good communication with the railroads. rienced staff. Washington DOT: It funds a public project position at a rail- road to work primarily on WSDOT projects. Washington Early Coordination and Contact with Railroad DOT suggests this same strategy could involve more than South Carolina DOT: It recommends getting early coor- one state sharing costs for a manager housed at the railroad. dination and comments from railroads. Nebraska DOT: It developed a productive relationship with California DOT: It recommends the following: get early a dedicated person at the railroad with whom they work on involvement of the railroad's public projects staff; provide a daily basis. railroad only with plans that show impacts to its facilities; City of Colorado Springs: It pays for a private consultant describe projects thoroughly to complement the plans; and selected by the railroad to review city plans. hold regular meetings on the progress of all projects in all phases of Section 130 funding. Oregon DOT: It recommends early contact with the rail- Use of Technology roads during scoping and at the beginning of projects. Start Georgia DOT: It uses electronic plan submissions to avoid any right-of-way process as early as possible. lost plans. It is also working toward master agreements to streamline processes, including preliminary engineering and Other construction payments. North Dakota: It scans agreements into PDF form for Minnesota DOT: It reports that it always does diagnostics at review by the railroad legal departments and reports that the railroad grade crossings and involves the railroad and, if pos- practice reduces processing time. sible, the local road authority.

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95 City of St. Paul, Minnesota: It has a standard special provi- happen, it is difficult to redesign the projects to meet rail- sion for construction of roadway bridges over railroads that road standards. clearly defines what the contractor is required to do to sat- Montana DOT, Right-of-Way Bureau, Utilities Section: isfy safety requirements of the railroads. Successful project reviews are successful when there is Early submittal of the project designs and standard Performance Measures agreements to the railroad. Prompt responses, negotiations, and execution of stan- A common finding throughout the project has been that few dard agreements from all parties (DOT and railroad). agencies have performance measures regarding project rail- California DOT: Early involvement of railroad. Negotiate road reviews. The lack of measures has prevented the quanti- to keep the railroad whole while being a good steward of tative testing of strategies, performance, and effectiveness. agency resources. Qualitatively, there appears to be consensus as to the effec- Texas DOT: Predesign meeting with project stakeholders to tiveness of many strategies. clearly establish between the highway agency and the railroad In the survey, respondents were asked to list if they had per- company design parameters, constraints, and expectations. formance metrics related to the process of developing project Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department: Meet agreements. Although three agencies reported they had mea- in a timely manner. All parties understand what their role is sures, they did not report what they were, and the project team in the job. was not successful in obtaining them. City of San Jose, Department of Transportation: Review process is begun well in advance of proposed Agencies' Assessment construction. of Their Performance Follow up (with e-mails or phone calls) is done after plans are sent out for review. Clarification is provided Out of 39 respondents, nine assessed their agency's perfor- if needed. mance in submitting plans that meet the review needs of the Funding is secured, so that reviewers know the project railroads as "excellent." Another 25 rated their performance will be done. "good," five said their performance was "acceptable," and none scored themselves "poor." Early, Detailed Submittals Florida DOT: Detailed work descriptions and plans are pro- Reasons for Success vided to the railroads, plus follow-up correspondence and Respondents were asked in an open-ended question to list the phone calls ensure success. primary reason that successful project reviews are successful. Idaho DOT: When comments and needs are expressed early It should be noted that "success" was not defined but rather and are consistent throughout the development of the proj- was left to the respondents to define on the basis of their own ect, [it] leads to a more successful outcome. judgment. Most of the responses were brief, as is common in Nebraska Department of Roads: We have staff in the rail surveys. No attempts are made here to elaborate or infer addi- area that review plans first and then work with our roadway tional details; rather, the responses are reproduced almost and bridge staff for further reviews and then meet with rail- verbatim. road representatives as needed. The responses reiterated the oft-stated opinion that a Caltrans: There are no reviews per se. Review done by con- successful project review process requires early coordination, stant teamwork until contracts are signed and then ongoing timely submittals, ongoing coordination, and experienced par- teamwork until the final bills are paid. ticipants. Following are the open-ended responses categorized Georgia DOT: Completeness of plans and thorough review by topics. by railroad. City of Colorado Springs: Project reviews are successful when the comments are clear and indicate the basis behind Early Coordination and Submittals the comment. For example, citing the standards or criteria Missouri DOT: Timely submittals with enough information behind the comments is helpful to the submitter. to decide approval. Oregon DOT: Early coordination and plan review, which is Dedicated Resources and Knowledgeable required by Oregon law. Staff Involvement Arizona DOT: Early coordination with railroad and project designers. Iowa DOT: Iowa DOT works to involve the right people Minnesota DOT: It is always better to deal with issues at in project reviews, including the railroads, local highway the beginning of the design process. When this doesn't authorities and DOT staff.

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96 Washington State DOT: Designers are knowledgeable about agencies. The railroads were interviewed and many were can- railroad design and coordination requirements. There are as did about shortcomings they experience in highway agency few points of contact between the agency and railroad as submittals. However, the railroads were careful not to appear possible to promote consistency and predictability. Railroad critical of individual agencies and thus tempered many of their has a clear and accurate assessment of the priority level for comments so as to not to offend particular state or local depart- the project. ments. In these comments, references to specific railroads were City of Overland Park, Kansas: It reports it is adequately deleted, as were the names of the commenting agencies. staffed so that the proper amount of time can be spent on reviews. Delayed Agreements, Incomplete City of Salem, Oregon: Projects are successful when the Submittals, and Late Coordination railroad gives adequate time and attention to reviewing and commenting on plans received from local agencies. Project submittals are transmitted to the incorrect railroad office within the company. Some projects are delayed, await- ing local government commitments to improve adjacent Relationship, Ongoing Communications, facilities. and One Point of Contact Untimely submittals that do not include enough informa- Pennsylvania DOT: Ongoing communication. tion. North Dakota DOT: Communication. There probably are reasons but the railroad's response is Texas DOT: Open communication and consultation be- very slow. tween highway and railroad design engineers during the Not beginning coordination early enough. project development process. Different people use different approaches. Lack of consis- City of St. Paul, Department of Public Works: Have a per- tency within the railroad company and within different parts sonal point of contact on both sides to work out issues. of the DOT on the same issue. Alaska DOT&PF: Usually involves a small number of play- Railroad not responding in a timely manner to plan reviews. ers and the same players. So everyone knows each other and Sometimes railroad does not provide complete plan review is used to working together. response. Arizona DOT: Understanding process and good working Unrealistic time frame for the project. relationship with railroad. Delay in getting response from railroads. Project reviews appear to be slow or delayed due to the num- ber of people that need to approve the reviews. One person Regulations and Master Agreements in the chain can delay the reviews because they are too busy Louisiana DOTD: The railroads' master agreements for to deal with them in a timely manner. at-grade crossings are important. It helps to have a special person handle a larger area than go through each local engi- Scheduling and Timelines, Slow Responses, neer's office for each job. and Delayed Feedback and Comments Illinois Commerce Commission: As a regulatory agency, the ICC has certain rules that railroads must follow with regard Projects are unsuccessful when the railroad is "too busy," to filing plans and cost information for review and approval. "that is not my responsibility, you need to talk to . . . ," or never heard from during the plan review stage. Slow reviews by railroads, slow cooperation by railroads. Unsuccessful or Delayed Not done in a timely fashion. Project Reviews Delays in obtaining railroad agreements and right-of-way. When asked to identify what tends to result in unsuccessful The primary reason for delay: The railroad does not respond reviews, 32 responses were received. Perhaps predictably, the promptly. responses were generally the opposite of the ones cited as lead- The timelines of the DOT and railroads sometimes do not ing to successful projects. The most typical problems cited were move at the same pace. Changes are difficult to get done a lack of responsiveness by the railroads, changing project quickly. requirements, staff turnover, and related issues that tended to Inconsistent comments and an ever-changing target. Lack of prevent the timely and consistent review of submittals. comment by railroads is sometimes a problem. Many of the comments are negative toward the railroads. It Railroads have been unwilling to provide a strict timeline should be noted that the railroads were not given a compara- for project review. Most timelines contain minimum time ble opportunity to comment anonymously about highway frames but no maximum time. This makes it impossible

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97 for the transportation agency to adhere to a fixed project does not result in a formal agreement. We end up paying schedule. (high) fees for flagging and whatever the railroad decides to bill for. Since these costs are not identified up front, the feds may not reimburse the local agency for these expenses. On Disagreement and Changes to our latest job, the city paid out $750,000 in flagging costs on Plans or Agreements a $5.5 million bridge. Late plan changes can delay process since right-of-way can- There is a lack of desire on the part of the railroad to adapt not then be changed. quickly to change (like the implementation of quiet zones). Lack of consultation between highway and railroad design Uncertainty exists regarding the viability or funding of a engineers during the project development process. project. The railroad tries to change standard agreement language. No follow-up is initiated. Usually a railroad will make some demand that the state can- not agree to, which involves agency attorneys, and the result- ing negotiations delay the project. Additional Issues Railroad company changing or revising design guidelines The final item on the survey asked respondents to "identify during the project development process or after the railroad what specific issues you would most like to see addressed in has given preliminary approval of the design. regard to the coordination between highway agencies and railroads." The most frequently cited issues referred to rail- Communication, Trust, and Relationship road insurance and force account costs; delays in railroad reviews; perceived demands by the railroads for plan Sometimes an adversarial relationship develops between the changes; and a general sense of heavy-handedness by the rail- railroad and the highway agency on some projects. Some roads. Several respondents called for mandatory project- DOT project managers try to avoid having to deal with review timelines to be required in federal statutes. This issue the railroad if possible. Lack of communication. and the issue of railroad insurance costs are addressed in Lack of internal communication. Review of Federal Regulations (see pp. 4047). They are referred to only briefly here. The general comments revealed more of the negative sentiments that highway agencies Lack of Predesign Meetings, Disagreement express privately about the highwayrailroad agreement on Design, and Roles and Responsibilities process. As has been stressed repeatedly in this research, Disagreement over signal designs. Identifying roles and because there are so few metrics regarding project schedules responsibilities during construction (including railway or the quality of submittals, it is not possible to indepen- construction). dently measure the validity of these complaints. However, Not conducting a predesign meeting with project stakehold- the complaints are quite common and appear to occur ers to clearly establish design parameters, constraints, and throughout the country. expectations. Force Account Work, Billing, and Insurance Staff Turnover and Lack of Knowledge The comments regarding railroad force account work were The local engineer may not be familiar with a railroad type common in the survey and in interviews with the states. The job and may not respond as quickly as for a "normal" job. railroad labor agreements call for work on the railroad associ- Also, the railroad may take a while to bill. Also, it takes a while ated with highway projects to be performed by railroad forces. for the railroad job to fully go through the audit review. The railroads bill for the crews' direct time, materials, and Turnover of staff at railroad and road agencies. equipment and all overhead. In addition to the costs involved, the highway projects also must provide lead time for railroad crews to be available to conduct the work. This has led to spo- Issues with Funding and Indemnification radic complaints of highway agencies facing contractor delay Railroads have historically required complete indemnifica- charges because railroads have not completed their portion tion of liability even for their own negligence. To us as a pub- of work on time. Highway agencies also have complained lic agency, we find this to be an absurd requirement of their about receiving poor documentation on bills from railroads, legal staff. We have been forced to condemn our right to undocumented costs, and costs for work they believe to be construct. The judge throws out the indemnification, but it "betterments."

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98 The following comments represent the sentiments expressed DOTs should be able to hire structure engineers to review by some state and local respondents: railroad bridge plans in-house to expedite review. The structure engineers will have to be approved by the railroad. Railroads should treat the public's money with the same For simple projects such as replacing a crossing signal, it care with which they would spend their own money. seems that one reason for delay is that the railroad needs to Railroad companies should acknowledge that highway have the signal built for the project. These signals are nearly capacity improvement projects that cross or affect existing all the same and every railroad should be able to keep a sup- railroads have public benefits, including benefits to the ply of these in a central location so the extra time to have a same freight network of which the railroads are a part. signal built would not be necessary. Railroads should not expect indemnification for railroad The problem with DOT projects that impact railroads lies in negligence. communication and understanding of railroad operation, Railroads should acknowledge that highway agencies have maintenance, and internal administration. Cost estimates a right to construct or maintain their bridges. are not well explained. Railroads should be judicious in requiring high insurance Generally, we get along with all of the railroads; it's just limits and only require them when absolutely necessary. their slow response time which can adversely affect a let- Local governments should receive federal support when ting schedule. We need a consistent time frame so that some sort of plan- dealing with railroads. Railroads should provide prompt, accurate, itemized bills ning can be used to help protect the public at problem for work completed. crossings. Community Relations Timeliness of Reviews The railroad needs to be more concerned with local agency A major theme throughout the project has been the time- projects. Often there is little help provided during the liness of reviews. This theme appeared frequently in the open- design stage, and requests for changes are made during con- ended comments. struction. In addition, they show very little concern for local community issues when they perform maintenance and Time, time, time. Changes to design from inception of the upgrades to their system. project until execution of the agreement. Often, a design that Railroads need to be more friendly to the local people. is acceptable in the preliminary stages is not acceptable to the The current process seems to be skewed in favor of the rail- railroad at the 90% design level. This change over time is very roads. Changes to create a more balanced process would be difficult for a state transportation agency. Often the change desirable. is due to a policy issue that has changed for the railroad. The process is very one-sided. The railroads control the More rapid and consistent response by railroads. schedule and the design. There is absolutely no room for Development of a timeline for project review that is upheld. negotiation. Often, due to time constraints, state agencies Defined timelines to get tasks completed. Prompt responses must agree to railroad demands in terms of design changes from railroad companies. and bridge ownership. These issues have cost the states a lot Better response time from the railroads for the agreements of additional money and potential delay to projects. In one and right-of-way process. case, a railroad refused to follow a schedule in an agreement, A general issue . . . is that the railroad ignores our request, or which resulted in our governor getting involved to keep a takes too long to respond. We try to take into account their project "on track." In another instance, a contractor was nonresponsiveness, but sometimes that's not possible. paid a $500,000 delay claim because the railroad would not Timely response. We have experienced projects that by the install a crossing in accordance with the schedule. Railroads time railroad gets to the agreement, the project has had to will not sign an agreement with any penalty clause, so there slip in our program and have had funding lapses waiting on is no recourse when these situations occur. the railroad. More timely response during the design and construction Survey Summary phases. and Conclusions Hire more public projects staff. Streamline railroad process for engineering and legal reviews, including establishing The survey results illustrate the dichotomy that has been a mechanism where the reviewer is prompted to contact apparent throughout this project. Both the railroads and the the agency if there are questions or concerns regarding a highway agencies agree generally about which strategies submittal. work best to expedite project agreements. Both sides have taken

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99 steps to incorporate these best practices into their processes. The degree to which problems and delays occur remains Despite this common basis of agreement, there still are persis- elusive. To date, most highway agencies and railroads have tent complaints from state and local highway agencies of not documented baselines for project reviews or tracked the lengthy reviews, nonresponsiveness from the railroads, and degree of deviation from those baselines. It is apparent that arbitrary insistence on additional costs to accommodate railroad state and local highway officials express consistent dismay needs. These complaints give the impression that such problems over the agreement process, but the actual percentage of proj- are widespread. However, at the same time, when state officials ects that are delayed remains unclear. Only four of 39 respon- in rail divisions of highway agencies are interviewed, they indi- dents reported having any metrics regarding the agreement cate that they have good working relationships with their rail- process, and those four entities could not readily produce roads and that most project agreements proceed smoothly. their metrics.