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Section 2: Laws Impacting Rail-Highway Projects

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State Laws Applicable to Rail-Highway Projects

  • Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Title 43 (Transportation), Part 1 (Texas Department of Transportation), Chapter 7 (Rail Facilities). 43 TAC 7 establishes requirements and responsibilities for at-grade crossings.
  • Texas Transportation Code, Title 6 (Roadways), Subtitle Z (Miscellaneous Roadway Provisions), Chapter 471 (Railroad and Roadway Crossings). Chapter 471 establishes requirements and responsibilities for at-grade crossings.
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Federal Laws Applicable to Rail-Highway Projects

  • Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 23 (Highways), Chapter 1 (FHWA, DOT), Subchapter G (Engineering and Traffic Operations), Part 646 (Railroads). 23 CFR Part 646 includes various regulations related to contractors providing insurance when working on railroad rights-of-way, and executing agreements between states and railroad companies.
  • Code of Federal Regulations, Title 23 (Highways), Chapter 1 (FHWA, DOT), Subchapter B (Payment Procedures), Part 140 (Reimbursement), Subpart I (Reimbursement for Railroad Work). 23 CFR Part 140 provides policies and procedures for reimbursement to the states for railroad company work on projects.
  • Code of Federal Regulations, Title 23 (Highways), Chapter 1 (FHWA, DOT), Subchapter J (Highway Safety), Part 924 (Highway Safety Improvement Program). 23 CFR Part 924 provides regulations for the HSIP program, including at-grade crossings.
  • Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49 (Transportation), Subtitle B (Other Regulations Relating to Transportation), Chapter 2 (FHWA, DOT), Part 234 (Grade Crossing Safety, Including Signal Systems, State Action Plans, and Emergency Notification Systems). 49 CFR Part 234 provides regulations for grade crossing safety, including maintenance and testing requirements by railroad companies.
  • United States Code (USC), Title 23 (Highways), Chapter 1 (Federal-Aid Highways), Section 130 (Railway-highway crossings). 23 USC 130 establishes provisions for the elimination of hazards at at-grade crossings and provisions for funding. This is the funding source for Federal Signal Program (FSP) projects.
  • United States Code, Title 49 (Transportation), Subtitle 5 (Rail Programs), Part B (Assistance), Chapter 225 (Federal Grants to States for Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety). 49 USC Chapter 225 establishes provisions for federal grants on grade crossing programs, including safety improvements, state action plans, and Operation Lifesaver.
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Tabular List of Laws

The table below lists various state and federal laws related to specific issues commonly encountered with rail-highway projects and operations. Refer to the specific code for clarification.

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49 CFR Part 222

Laws requiring railroad companies to sound horn at at-grade crossings and provisions for Quiet Zones

23 CFR §646.210

Requirement that railroad companies participate 5% on grade separation projects of existing active crossings when federal funds are used.

23 USC §130(i)

Requirement that railroad companies must match at least $7,500 for crossing closure projects for locations not on a prioritized list of crossings for FSP upgrades

Tex. Transp. Code §471.009

Pavement marking standards for local governments for at-grade crossings not on the state highway system when state or federal funds are used for the pavement markings

49 CFR §§234.309-234.311

Laws and standards regarding ENS signs

49 CFR Part 840;

49 CFR §234.7;

49 CFR Part 225;

43 TAC §7.33;

43 TAC §7.86

Reporting requirements by railroad companies for crashes at at-grade crossings

Tex. Transp. Code Ch. 191;

23 CFR Part 646B

43 TAC §7.36

Minimum requirements for vertical and horizontal clearance for structures and bridges over railroads

49 CFR §213.37;

49 CFR §213.321;

43 TAC §7.37

Railroad company responsibilities for trimming vegetation and reducing visual obstructions near at-grade crossings

Tex. Transp. Code §§471.002 and 471.004;

43 TAC §7.102

Crossbuck maintenance and state requirements for affixing retroreflective tape on crossbuck signs

43 TAC §7.103;

Tex. Transp. Code §471.005

Requirements for railroad companies dismantling warning devices on active rail lines

43 TAC §7.104

Division of maintenance responsibilities at a railroad underpass

43 TAC §7.105

Requirements for spur permits when railroad company spur tracks cross existing state highways

43 TAC §7.106;

Tex. Transp. Code §§112.058, 112.059, and 471.001

Law that railroad companies shall not charge fees for at-grade crossings; requirements for maintenance of railroad crossing surfaces

Tex. Transp. Code §545.251

Law clarifying it is illegal to drive around, through, or under a descending gate or go through an at-grade crossing if a train can clearly be seen

43 TAC §7.41

Requirement that railroad companies operating in Texas pay an annual rail safety program fee

Tex. Transp. Code §545.252

Law providing authority for state to install stop signs at at-grade crossings

49 CFR §234.261

Requirement that traffic signal preemption circuits are tested at least once per month by railroad companies

49 CFR §1152

Procedures for abandoning a rail line

Tex. Transp. Code §545.302

Illegal to stop on an at-grade crossing or park within 50 feet of crossing

Tex. Transp. Code §544.005

Illegal for individual to interfere with railroad sign or device

Tex. Transp. Code §544.006

Illegal to place device that blocks view of railroad sign or signal

Tex. Penal Code §28.07

Illegal to trespass on railroad right-of-way or interfere with railroad operations

23 CFR §646.214

Requirement that all access-controlled facilities be grade separated from railroad crossings

23 CFR §646.214

Requirement that all traffic control devices proposed at at-grade crossings are compliant with the MUTCD

23 CFR §646.214

Conditions where gates must be installed at at-grade crossings on construction projects with federal aid

49 CFR §213.347

At-grade crossings not allowed on Class 8 or Class 9 railroad tracks (160 or 200 mph train speed)

49 CFR §234.11

49 USC §22501

Requirement that the 10 states with the most grade crossing crashes, on average, from calendar years 2006-2008, produce a grade crossing action plan

49 CFR §234.9

Requirement for railroad companies reporting malfunctioning active grade crossing warning systems within 15 days of failure

49 CFR §234.223;

49 CFR §234.225

Requirements that:

  • Flashing lights must flash for three (3) seconds before a gate arm descends
  • Flashing lights must activate at least 20 seconds prior to arrival of train at an at-grade crossing
  • Gates must be horizontal for at least five (5) seconds prior to arriving train

Tex. Transp. Code §§545.253, 545.2535, 545.254, 545.255, and 647.010

Laws requiring various types of vehicles to stop at at-grade crossings unless exempt

23 USC §409

Reports, surveys, lists, or data for evaluating railroad crossings shall not be admitted for evidence in a federal or state court

TMUTCD Section 8B.10

Requirements that:

  • Gate arms shall be removed and signal heads removed or hooded or turned from view if a track is placed out of service
  • Traffic control devices must be relocated or modified if a track is closed at a multiple track crossing

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