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The purpose of the Railroad/Highway At-Grade Crossing Program is to reduce the number and severity of highway accidents by eliminating hazards to vehicles and pedestrians at existing railroad crossings. The program is authorized by Title 23, United States Code, Section 130 (23 U.S.C. 130), and addresses the development of railroad/highway at-grade crossing improvement projects.
The program reflects the railway-highway program reporting requirements as presented under the under Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act protocols, as shown on the Federal Highway Administration website.
Railroad/highway at-grade crossing improvement projects include, but are not limited to, installation and improvement of railroad protection systems at grade crossings, such as:
To clarify the difference between Closure and Abandonment, the following definitions are used:
A project must satisfy the following requirements to qualify for Federal funds:
Section 1201 of the CPUC Code provides that no public road, highway, or street shall be constructed across the track of any railroad at-grade, nor shall the track of any railroad be constructed across a public road, highway, or street without first securing permission from the CPUC. CPUC permission is also required to alter, relocate, abandon, or close any railroad/highway crossing. All applications or notices to the CPUC to construct or alter any grade crossing on a county road or city street are filed by the local agency or railroad. The GO 88-B must be submitted and approved by the CPUC prior to construction, but after funding has been secured. Project amounts for this program must be included in the FTIP developed by each MPO and in the FSTIP in order to obtain Federal authorization and obligate funds. The priority list is developed by the CPUC, and is updated annually.
The following is the general schedule and procedures for developing the annual list and program:
Federal funding for the Railroad/Highway Grade Crossing Program is derived from the annual apportionment for the Surface Transportation Program (STP). Ten percent of the annual STP apportionment is reserved for the safety programs defined by the Section 130- railroad/highway crossing improvements (Division of Rail) and 152 – hazard elimination projects (Division of Traffic Operations). The estimated program funding level for the Railroad/Highway Grade Crossing Program is approximately $16 million per year.
Work performed prior to Federal project authorization (see Chapter 3, “Project Authorization” in the Local Assistance Procedures Manual) is not eligible for Federal reimbursement under Section 130 Program. Section 130 funding is not available for removal of abandoned railroad tracks on previously abandoned railroads. If a railroad crossing is on the CPUC recommended list of projects and the railroad chooses to abandon the crossing, rather than improve it, the cost for track removal and other costs associated with returning the roadway to a safe usable condition, may be allowed at the discretion and agreement of Caltrans and CPUC.
Federal funds are not available to cover costs incurred solely for the benefit of the railroad. Federal funds may participate in the cost of providing space for future track requirements when it is established to the satisfaction of the CPUC, Caltrans and the FHWA, that additional tracks will be needed within a reasonable amount of time.
Facilities that are the responsibility of the railroad for maintenance and operation shall conform to the standards established in the State CPUC Code and CPUC General Orders (GO). Any deviation from these standards are subject to CPUC approval.
On projects where Federal-aid funds are used, the type of protection needed is determined by the CPUC, in accordance with the CA MUTCD and Caltrans, where State highways are involved. Likewise, for crossings where automatic gates with flashing light signals are not required, the type of warning device to be installed is subject to the approval of the CPUC, and Caltrans where State highways are involved.
Traffic control devices and pavement markings shall comply with the latest edition of the CA MUTCD, supplemented to the extent applicable by State standards and the current industry best practices and/or requirements. State standards require advance warning signs (W10-1) at most crossings. Such grade crossing warning devices should also comply with the CPUC Standards as specified in the CPUC’s General Orders.
Caltrans is responsible for conducting and documenting the necessary environmental reviews to ascertain any adverse environmental impacts. Based on past experience, Grade Crossing Improvements Program projects typically do not involve significant environmental impacts and qualify as “Categorical Exclusions (CE’s) when such projects:
Local agency certifications regarding the status of affected railroad facilities must be signed, certified and submitted to the DRMT. Documentation as to the acceptability of the local agency railroad
facility arrangements must be on file before the approval of federal funding is requested.
Both the local agency and railroad must have agreements in place to perform work in or near the other’s right of way.
Where there is construction of a Federal-aid project involving a local agency, and requiring the use of railroad properties or the adjustment to railroad facilities, there shall be an agreement in writing between the local agency and the railroad.
The written agreement between the local agency and the railroad should include the following where applicable:
The local agency enters into its own easement agreement with the railroad to secure the necessary rights of way. When necessary, these agreements shall be completed prior to Right of Way certification, and certified as part of that document prior to submission to the DRMT.
As soon as possible, the local agency and railroad shall furnish to the other the railroad plans of proposed work. The plans should show the following, as appropriate to each entity:
This program is administered centrally from Caltrans Headquarters on a statewide basis. Caltrans formed the Railroad Grade Crossing Safety Branch, within the DRMT, and is tasked with implementing this program. Caltrans is responsible for funding, contracting and oversight of the Section 130 projects. The CPUC is responsible for the development and administration of the Section 130 priority list, development and updates to the final scope of work, preliminary plan drawings, project cost estimates and approval of the GO-88B request.
Local agencies and railroad companies are required to provide an update of the project schedules and costs in writing every three (3) months from the date of the Notice to Proceed (NTP). Local agencies or railroads that fail to provide these semi-annual updates may result in their projects being dropped from the program. Updates will include the following information, as necessary (see exhibit).
If no action of any kind has occurred on a project over a period of three months after the NTP, Caltrans will request review of the project progress from the Railroad and/or local agency. This information is needed to ensure timely project delivery. If the project is experiencing significant delays, the agreement may be canceled so that the funds can be programmed on other projects.
If any increase in project cost or need of a time extension is anticipated, it should be immediately brought to the attention of the DRMT for a review of the justification of the cost increase and/or schedule change, before expiration of the agreement. This must be done before expenditures are incurred in excess of the contract amount. If this increase in cost and/or schedule change is adequately justified and approved by the DRMT, a new Service Contract Supplement will be initiated, followed by a NTP. A copy of the Service Contract Supplement for cost increase and/or time extension will be provided to the local agency and/or railroad company.
Federal directives require that the results of safety improvements be evaluated three years after the project is completed. Each project listed must have a before-and-after evaluation. Safety deficiencies corrected by this program largely justifies the prioritizing methods and future funding. This evaluation is contained in the annual Highway Safety Improvement Plan (HSIP) report, compiled by the CPUC and Caltrans and submitted to FHWA.
FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINSTRATION (FHWA)
Rail/Highway Grade Crossing Safety
FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION (FRA)
Crossing Inventory Program
Department of Transportation
Division of Rail and Mass Transportation
1120 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Please choose one of the following:
(Concerning Rail Ops Support and Equipment)
Caltrans Division of Rail and Mass Transportation
P. O. Box 942874
Sacramento, CA 94274-0001
(Concerning State and Federal Transit Programs)
Caltrans Division of Rail and Mass Transportation
P. O. Box 942874
Sacramento, CA 94274-0001
DRMT Phone 916-654-8811
DRMT Fax (Rail) 916-653-4565
DRMT Fax (Mass Trans) 916-654-9366
Amtrak 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245)