Federal agencies Rail Transportation

FRA revises rule on highway rail-grade crossing safety plans

rail crossing
Photo: Art Wager/iStockphoto

Washington — The Federal Railroad Administration has issued a final rule revising the agency’s regulation on highway rail-grade crossing action plans to require 40 states and the District of Columbia to develop and implement – and update, if applicable – FRA-approved action plans.

The final rule, published in the Dec. 14 Federal Register and slated to go into effect Jan. 13, also will require the 10 states that already have developed action plans, as was required by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and FRA’s implementing regulation, to update their plans and submit reports to the agency describing the implementation actions taken.

Under RSIA, Congress directed the secretary of transportation to identify the 10 states with the highest average of highway rail-grade crossing collisions from 2006 through 2008 to examine specific solutions for improving the safety of these high-risk crossings. The states identified: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio and Texas.

All state action plans must identify crossings that:

  • Experienced at least one incident in the previous three years
  • Experienced more than one incident in the past five years
  • Are at high risk for incidents

Each state’s action plan should provide a list of factors considered to determine which crossings are high risk. Among the factors that can be included are “average annual daily traffic,” number of trains per day that travel through each crossing, number of motor vehicle collisions at each crossing over the past five years, the number of main rail tracks and roadway lanes at each crossing, and sight distance and roadway geometry at crossings.

The rule initially was published in the June 28, 2010, Federal Register.

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