Section 5: Railroad Grade Separation Program

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The Railroad Grade Separation (RGS) Program addresses the construction of new grade separation structures at existing at-grade highway-railroad crossings and the rehabilitation or replacement of deficient highway underpasses of railroads on the state highway system. The eligible state highway system routes must be of a classification greater than local road or rural minor collector on the functional classification scale; i.e., they must be classified as federal-aid highways. Title 23 of the CFR Part 646 Subpart B – Railroad-Highway Projects provides federal policy and guidance on these types of projects.Selected and prioritized highway-railroad grade separation projects are in some instances authorized in funding Category 6 RGS of the yearly Unified Transportation Program (UTP) under the CONSTRUCT level of authorization. Category 6 RGS funding is targeted for each of the following:

Candidate projects for construction of new grade separation structures are prioritized using a cost-benefit index, while projects for railroad underpass replacement/rehabilitation are prioritized using a priority rating. The cost-benefit index and priority rating are summarized in the Statewide Prioritization and Programming section and described in detail in Chapter 10 of the Rail-Highway Operations Manual.

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Eligibility Requirements

Funding for Category 6 RGS in these projects should be limited to the actual structure and other work necessary to make the structure serviceable and consistent with good design. This limits Category 6 RGS-funded approach roadway work to that which is sufficient to transition the gradeline of the structure to an attainable touchdown with the existing or new approaching roadway that is at or near level grade. Roadway and other work that is outside these limitations should be funded from other categories.

These limitations should particularly control when the new or replacement structure will be constructed on a new alignment or at a new location.

Except in extraordinary situations, the existing at-grade highway-railroad crossing should be eliminated.

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Statewide Prioritization and Programming

New Highway-Railroad Grade Separation Projects

The cost-benefit index used in prioritizing new highway-railroad grade separation projects is the estimated cost in millions of dollars that would be saved in highway user cost over a 50-year design life of the new grade separation structure constructed at the existing highway-railroad crossing. The higher the estimated user cost, the higher the priority. The estimated user cost includes costs due to casualties (fatalities and injuries) and personnel and traffic equipment delay.

Factors used in calculating a cost-benefit index are as follows:

The data described for cost-benefit index calculation are compiled with data from the National Safety Council, CST, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Equipment Watch Rental Rate Blue Book.

When a new highway-railroad grade separation project eliminates an existing highway-railroad crossing with an active warning device (or is ordered by a state regulatory agency to install one), the respective railroad company is federally required to provide 5% of the project cost. See 23 CFR 646.210 for more detailed information.

Railroad Underpass Replacement/Rehabilitation Projects

Projects for railroad underpass replacement/rehabilitation are prioritized using a priority rating or score on a numerical scale of 0 through 100. The higher the number, the less sufficient the structure for underpassing highway traffic, and thus, the higher the priority for replacement/rehabilitation.

The attributes and relative weights used in calculating a priority rating score are as follows:

This rating calculation uses the Bridge Inspection Database appraisal ratings (0 through 9) for vertical and horizontal clearance. The Bridge Inspection Database provides percent trucks and average daily traffic items.

Anchor: #i1051104Table 2-3: Railroad Grade Separation Program Selection Process Schedule

Program Time


Time Frame

Action Items

List Development


1 month

BRG develops lists of all eligible RGS projects.

Program Call


1 month

Districts select new candidates and update current estimates and lettings.

Project Selection


1 month

BRG/RRD-RSS develops list of District candidate projects in order of prioritization.

Selection Comments and Special Considerations


1 month

Districts comment on selections and propose special considerations.

Program Call Finalized


1 month

BRG prepares final call list with special considerations.

Final List Sent to FIN


1 month

BRG sends final RGS list to FIN.

DCIS Updates


1 month

Districts submit DCIS changes and build new CSJs.

Develop PS&E

Submit package 3 months pre-letting

12-24 months

District begins survey, permitting, and layout development. BRG review required.

Bridge Plans

Begin design no later than 6 months pre-letting

Minimum 3 months

*Bridge plans developed by District, Consultant, or BRG. BRG review required.

* NOTE: Per the Rail-Highway Operations Manual, Chapter 2, 12-18 months are needed to get an agreement for an overpass from the time RRD-RSS receives the Exhibit A. 24+ months is needed for an underpass structure.

The main steps involved in the agreement process are:

Category 6 Developmental Authority (6DA) can be utilized to perform a feasibility study to determine the effects of changing a highway-railroad underpass structure to a highway-railroad overpass structure. Overpass structures are more desirable to the Department and the railroads. Contact your Bridge Division project manager for more information.

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