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2019 N A T I O N A L C O O P E R A T I V E H I G H W A Y R E S E A R C H P R O G R A M NCHRP RESEARCH REPORT 901 Prioritization Procedure for Proposed RoadâRail Grade Separation Projects Along Specific Rail Corridors Mark Berndt Quetica, LLc Bloomington, MN Rahim F. Benekohal Jacob Mathew university of iLLinois at urbanaâchampaign Urbana, IL Jeannie Beckett beckett group Gig Harbor, WA Jeff McKerrow Tom Worker-Braddock Al Cathcart Nick Weander oLsson associates Lincoln, NE Subscriber Categories Highways â¢ Railroads â¢ Planning and Forecasting Research sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration
NATIONAL COOPERATIVE HIGHWAY RESEARCH PROGRAM Systematic, well-designed, and implementable research is the most effective way to solve many problems facing state departments of transportation (DOTs) administrators and engineers. Often, high- way problems are of local interest or regional interest and can best be studied by state DOTs individually or in cooperation with their state universities and others. However, the accelerating growth of highway transportation results in increasingly complex problems of wide inter- est to highway authorities. These problems are best studied through a coordinated program of cooperative research. Recognizing this need, the leadership of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in 1962 ini- tiated an objective national highway research program using modern scientific techniquesâthe National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). NCHRP is supported on a continuing basis by funds from participating member states of AASHTO and receives the full cooperation and support of the Federal Highway Administration, United States Department of Transportation. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was requested by AASHTO to administer the research program because of TRBâs recognized objectivity and understanding of modern research practices. TRB is uniquely suited for this purpose for many reasons: TRB maintains an extensive com- mittee structure from which authorities on any highway transportation subject may be drawn; TRB possesses avenues of communications and cooperation with federal, state, and local governmental agencies, univer- sities, and industry; TRBâs relationship to the National Academies is an insurance of objectivity; and TRB maintains a full-time staff of special- ists in highway transportation matters to bring the findings of research directly to those in a position to use them. The program is developed on the basis of research needs identified by chief administrators and other staff of the highway and transportation departments, by committees of AASHTO, and by the Federal Highway Administration. Topics of the highest merit are selected by the AASHTO Special Committee on Research and Innovation (R&I), and each year R&Iâs recommendations are proposed to the AASHTO Board of Direc- tors and the National Academies. Research projects to address these topics are defined by NCHRP, and qualified research agencies are selected from submitted proposals. Administration and surveillance of research contracts are the responsibilities of the National Academies and TRB. The needs for highway research are many, and NCHRP can make significant contributions to solving highway transportation problems of mutual concern to many responsible groups. The program, however, is intended to complement, rather than to substitute for or duplicate, other highway research programs. Published research reports of the NATIONAL COOPERATIVE HIGHWAY RESEARCH PROGRAM are available from Transportation Research Board Business Office 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 and can be ordered through the Internet by going to http://www.national-academies.org and then searching for TRB Printed in the United States of America NCHRP RESEARCH REPORT 901 Project 25-50 ISSN 2572-3766 (Print) ISSN 2572-3744 (Online) ISBN 978-0-309-48019-2 Library of Congress Control Number 2019936628 Â© 2019 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material used herein. Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be used to imply TRB, AASHTO, FAA, FHWA, FMCSA, FRA, FTA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, PHMSA, or TDC endorsement of a particular product, method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the material, request permission from CRP. NOTICE The research report was reviewed by the technical panel and accepted for publication according to procedures established and overseen by the Transportation Research Board and approved by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this report are those of the researchers who performed the research and are not necessarily those of the Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; or the program sponsors. The Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and the sponsors of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturersâ names appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the object of the report.
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, non- governmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president. The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president. The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine. Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.national-academies.org. The Transportation Research Board is one of seven major programs of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to increase the benefits that transportation contributes to society by providing leadership in transportation innovation and progress through research and information exchange, conducted within a setting that is objective, interdisciplinary, and multimodal. The Boardâs varied committees, task forces, and panels annually engage about 7,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. Learn more about the Transportation Research Board at www.TRB.org.
C O O P E R A T I V E R E S E A R C H P R O G R A M S CRP STAFF FOR NCHRP RESEARCH REPORT 901 Christopher J. Hedges, Director, Cooperative Research Programs Lori L. Sundstrom, Deputy Director, Cooperative Research Programs William C. Rogers, Senior Program Officer Jarrel McAfee, Senior Program Assistant Eileen P. Delaney, Director of Publications Natalie Barnes, Associate Director of Publications Ann E. Petty, Senior Editor NCHRP PROJECT 25-50 PANEL Field of Transportation PlanningâArea of Impact Analysis Kermit W. Wies, Northwestern University Transportation Center, Evanston, IL (Chair) Christopher R. Herman, Washington Public Ports Association, Olympia, WA Daniel G. Haake, HDR, Inc., Indianapolis, IN Phillip C. Meraz, Iowa DOT, Ames, IA Andrew Mielke, SRF Consulting Group. Inc., Minneapolis, MN Jahmal M. Pullen, North Carolina DOT, Raleigh, NC Larry A. Shughart, Jacksonville, FL Gregory J. Vaughn, Carlisle, PA Vicente âVincentâ Mantero, FHWA Liaison Scott Babcock, TRB Liaison
F O R E W O R D By William C. Rogers Staff Officer Transportation Research Board NCHRP Research Report 901: Prioritization Procedure for Proposed RoadâRail Grade Separation Projects Along Specific Rail Corridors provides tools to assist state and local planners in making better prioritization and investment decisions for roadârail at-grade crossing separations. The report provides a more comprehensive means of comparing similar project alternatives within a specific rail corridor. Planning factors include economic, environmental, and community livability factors to support a robust decision process for making grade separation decisions. A key outcome of the research is a spreadsheet tool designed to support analyses required for many state and federal competitive funding pro- grams. This information will be of interest to transportation planners and decision makers in their efforts to enhance safety and reduce congestion at railâhighway grade crossings. During the past decade, railroad traffic has fluctuated in a number of key markets; coal traffic has declined, while other markets such as petroleum and intermodal have grown. Changing markets can impact the amount of rail traffic on rail mainlines, presenting challenges to state and local planners faced with making investment decisions about at-grade rail crossing improvements. This situation is particularly acute along urban rail corridors experiencing significant increases in train traffic or where the operating speed or train length has increased. The traditional approach for making grade-crossing investment decisions has been guided primarily by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration RailroadâHighway Grade Crossing Handbook, which focuses heavily on traffic and safety factors. While safety continues to be a high priority in the development of roadârail grade separation projects, state and local decision makers need more robust criteria when competing against other projects for funding and construction. In NCHRP Project 25-50, the research team led by Olsson Associates was asked to develop a prioritization procedure to rank roadârail grade separations within specific rail corridors. In addition, the researchers developed the railroad crossing assessment tool (RCAT), a multicriteria evaluation tool that considers safety, economic, environmental, and community livability factors in a set of linked Microsoft Excel spreadsheets [available on the TRB website (www.trb.org) by searching on NCHRP Research Report 901]. In addition, the research team developed a communications toolkit to inform and convey to stakeholders and decision makers the relative objective merits of individual roadârail separation projects within corridors.
C O N T E N T S ix Abbreviations 1 Summary 2 Chapter 1 Introduction 2 1.1 Need for the Research Project 3 1.2 Research Objectives 3 1.3 Research Questions and Project Approach 5 Chapter 2 Overview of Current RailroadâHighway Grade Crossing Separation Evaluation 5 2.1 USDOT RailroadâHighway Grade Crossing Handbook 5 2.2 Issues and Trends Affecting RailroadâHighway Grade Crossings 7 2.3 RoadâRail Grade Separation Decision Process: Literature Review 12 2.4 Survey of State and Local Program Managers Regarding HighwayâRailroad Grade Separation Decisions 16 2.5 Conclusions from Existing Literature and Stakeholder Input 17 Chapter 3 Developing the Railroad Corridor Crossing Assessment Tool 17 3.1 Grade Separation Project Investment Modules 27 3.2 Defining Rail Corridors 28 3.3 Identifying Candidate Corridors/Corridor Profiles 34 Chapter 4 Beta Testing the RCAT 34 4.1 Beta Test Process and Application 36 4.2 Beta Test Feedback for Improving the Spreadsheet Tool 38 4.3 Beta Test Summary 39 Chapter 5 Overview of the RCAT Development 39 5.1 Methodology 41 5.2 Output of the Methodology and the RCAT 42 Chapter 6 Conclusions and Recommendations 42 6.1 Conclusions 43 6.2 Recommendations for RCAT Users 43 6.3 Future Activities and Research 44 References
46 Appendix A Literature Review by Category 53 Appendix B Methodology for Adjusting the USDOT Accident Prediction Value 60 Appendices C & D The RCAT User Guide and Toolkit and Templates Note: Photographs, figures, and tables in this report may have been converted from color to grayscale for printing. The electronic version of the report (posted on the web at www.trb.org) retains the color versions.
A B B R E V I A T I O N S AADT average annual daily traffic AASHTO American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials AATT average annual train traffic ALCAM Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model ALCRM All Level Crossing Risk Model BCA benefitâcost analysis BTS Bureau of Transportation Statistics CMA coastal management area CZMA Coastal Zone Management Act DOT Department of Transportation EPA Environmental Protection Agency FL flashing light FRA Federal Railroad Administration GIS geographic information system HUD Department of Housing and Urban Development ICC Illinois Commerce Commission ICM integrated corridor management ICMS ICM system INFRA Infrastructure for Rebuilding America LEP limited English proficiency LOS level of service NCHRP National Cooperative Highway Research Program NHFN National Highway Freight Network NOFO notice of funding opportunity PRIIA Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act RCAT railroad crossing assessment tool RSSB Rail Safety and Standards Board TIGER Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery TRB Transportation Research Board TRRA Terminal Railroad Association of Saint Louis TTI Texas A&M Transportation Institute WBAPS web-based accident prediction system XB crossbuck