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Section 3: Common Design Issues

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Project Work Within TxDOT Right-of-Way

Some railroad capital improvement projects may include work on TxDOT right-of-way. Typical work would include:

  • railroad warning devices and crossing surface panels for a spur track or additional trackage
  • installing an underpass bridge for a spur track
  • installing crash walls on TxDOT right-of-way to support a second track on railroad right-of-way
  • retaining walls and guardrail
  • grading and drainage features
  • new maintenance access to railroad right-of-way.

Installation of warning devices and crossing surface panels will be carried out by the railroad company. For all other work, the District may choose to allow the railroad company (or railroad contractor) to perform the work provided that:

  • design is approved
  • traffic control and detours are approved in advance
  • work is inspected and approved by the area office.
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Proposed Grade Separated Crossings

TxDOT may allow a grade-separated crossing if the private industry or railroad company desiring the crossing agrees to finance and construct it. The District, in conjunction with the Design Division (DES) and the Traffic Operations Division (TRF), determines the need for a grade separation based on:

  • projected AADT
  • volume, type, and time of train movements
  • location of the proposed crossing
  • safety of the traveling public
  • other pertinent considerations.
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Proposed At-Grade Crossings

Upon receiving a request for a spur track crossing, the District first investigates the possibility of the applicant (railroad company or private industry or both) obtaining rail service by alternate means that will not require an additional highway crossing. This usually means servicing through a different railroad company or through joint use of a nearby existing spur track crossing or rail line. If an alternate plan is impractical, the District should forward the spur track request to TRF-RSS, along with a report and recommendations. The report should include:

  • a map showing the location of the proposed spur track crossing
  • AADT at this location
  • applicant’s estimate of the number and length of trains anticipated to cross the highway during each 24-hour period.
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Dismantling Active Warning Devices

If the railroad company decides to remove an existing active warning device, TxDOT may seek reimbursement for salvage value if the device was paid for with public funds and is less than 10 years old.

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Out of Service vs. Abandoned Tracks

After a railroad company determines that an in-service track is no longer needed, the company may choose to either place the track out of service or to abandon the track entirely. If the track is placed out of service, the railroad company should notify TRF-RSS. The following should occur until the track is placed back in service:

  • A ‘Tracks Out of Service’ sign is placed in lieu of crossbuck signs.
  • The gate arms and traffic control devices, such as warning signs and pavement markings from the crossing, are removed.
  • The railroad signals are either removed, hooded, or turned from view to indicate they are not in operation.
  • The railroad company contacts the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to have the crossing inventory updated.
  • TRF-RSS updates the TRIMS crossing inventory.

The railroad company will remain responsible for maintaining the crossing surface, including the rail and ties. If the track will remain out of service for a long period, or if the railroad ties and/or crossing surface are starting to fail, TxDOT may contact the railroad company to remove the crossing surface, rail and ties, or obtain railroad permission to allow TxDOT to remove the same.

If the track is formally abandoned by the railroad company, the track is typically first removed by the railroad company as well as all at-grade crossing signs and signals. Once a track is abandoned, maintenance of the crossing falls on the roadway authority. The roadway authority may contact the railroad company to purchase the underlying property.

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