Section 2: Preliminary ActivitiesAnchor: #i1003032
As Districts identify construction projects impacting railroad rights-of-way, the following documents should be obtained:
- Existing license agreement or spur permit for the crossing or location being impacted by the project
- Advanced Funding Agreements (AFA) between TxDOT and a local government or railroad company for the project
- Right-of-way maps.
If the existing agreement can be obtained, TRF-RSS will verify if TxDOT or the roadway authority has a license to cross railroad right-of-way or if the railroad is crossing the roadway right-of-way via permit. TRF-RSS will also verify what responsibilities were established with all parties in the original agreement and if the new project is impacted by these responsibilities.
An AFA can be used as an attachment to a C&M Agreement to avoid a three-party agreement involving the local government. In this scenario, the C&M Agreement can be executed between TxDOT and the railroad company with the AFA attached to clarify maintenance responsibilities. The AFA also specifies which party is responsible for preliminary engineering (i.e. developing of plans) and which party will construct the project.
Existing license agreements and spur permit agreements are compiled by TRF-RSS, while any AFA and right-of-way maps are compiled by the District Railroad Coordinator.
The TRF-RSS Contract Specialist will determine if an existing safety Federal Signal Program (FSP) or replanking project exists at any of the at-grade crossings on the project. If so, the safety or replanking project may be canceled and paid for under the construction project.Anchor: #i1003077
In the early planning stages, there may be several parties needed for proper railroad coordination:
- Railroad Company Point of Contact
- Local Government Point of Contact
- Consultant (if applicable)
- District Project Manager
- District Design Engineer
- District Railroad Coordinator
- Area Engineer
- TRF-RSS Contract Specialist
- Bridge Division Project Manager (bridge projects only).
The railroad company point of contact can determine which contacts from the railroad company may be needed for coordination, given the scope of work in the project. Examples of contacts needed from the railroad company may include: real estate department, legal department, track design, structural engineers, environmental engineers, maintenance, local operations, and flagging.
Consultants with previous track design experience should be used on any projects involving track design (typically underpass projects). Familiarity with both American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way (AREMA) and individual railroad company track standards is essential.Anchor: #i1003142
Preliminary Design Meeting
Prior to plans and schematics being developed, the District Project Manager should contact the railroad company and local government (if applicable) to schedule a preliminary design meeting. TRF-RSS personnel may be available to attend the meeting. At this meeting, the group should discuss:
- project timelines
- design elements
- preliminary schematic
- at-grade crossing protection devices
- planking (crossing surface)
- bridge horizontal and vertical clearances and crash walls
- railroad company need for future tracks
- railroad company cost participation
- railroad company cost estimates
- work to be performed by railroad company
- any required shoofly tracks, railroad signal relocates, or track work
- adjacent at-grade crossings and wayside signals with existing circuitry that could impact the railroad company cost estimate
- benefit to the railroad company, and if so, how TxDOT can use this in negotiations
- how the contractor will access railroad right-of-way and construct the project
- if railroad right-of-way will need to be acquired
- the need for absolute work windows during construction (when trains cannot be run)
- railroad coordination during project development.
The preliminary design meeting should also clarify how the various railroad agreements and coordination with the railroad company will be handled throughout project development prior to letting. Some questions to be answered include:
- Who will submit and be a party to the Preliminary Engineering (PE) Agreement? (TRF-RSS policy is that all PE Agreements are two-party agreements for simplification. If TxDOT is letting the project, the agreement will include TxDOT and the railroad company. If the local government is letting the project, the agreement will include the local government and the railroad company. In this way, all project invoices from the railroad company go to the same party. NOTE: If a local government is letting the project, TxDOT will typically provide design approval to the local government only and is not a party to the C&M Agreement.)
- Who from TxDOT and the local government will review and approve project documents prior to submittal to the railroad company, including the Exhibit A plans and C&M Agreement?
- Who will be the point of contact to submit all documents to the railroad company?
- Who will be a party to and draft the C&M Agreement? (TRF-RSS prefers that C&M Agreements be two-party agreements between the party letting the project and the railroad company. The AFA is typically attached to the C&M Agreement to clarify the third party’s responsibilities on the project.)
NOTE: At the time of this writing, UPRR requires that all traffic signal preemption agreements are three-party agreements if local government traffic signal maintenance is involved.
Meeting minutes from the preliminary design meeting should be sent out shortly after the meeting by the District to the Project Team for comments and concurrence. In some cases, an informal approval from the railroad company may be required for the design features on the project prior to development of Exhibit A plans.Anchor: #i1003271
Preliminary Engineering (PE) Agreements
Many railroad companies require an executed PE Agreement, also known as a Letter of Authorization, to reimburse the railroad company for charges incurred in:
- review and approval of engineering design
- development of cost estimates for work performed by the railroad company
- development of railroad wireline diagrams
- real estate reviews of property impacted by project
- legal review of agreements
- attendance at meetings during project development
- track surveys
- railroad flagging in support of preliminary engineering activities.
These agreements may also provide authorization to the railroad company to provide flagging for preliminary design activities on the railroad right-of-way. At the time of this writing, railroad companies have the following requirements for PE Agreements:
- UPRR: PE Agreements are required for all construction projects other than pipe and wireline installations or general maintenance work on railroad right-of-way.
- BNSF: PE Agreements are only required on projects which involve traffic signal preemption or on underpasses when a consultant is used by BNSF for plan review.
- KCS: PE Agreements are required for all construction projects other than pipe and wireline installations or general maintenance work on railroad right-of-way.
- Shortline Railroad Companies: Check with TRF-RSS for current requirements.
PE Agreements are typically two to three-page letter agreements and often do not include any railroad company cost estimates as attachments, with one noted exception: KCS typically produces an estimate which includes time from both KCS employees as well as consultant labor. These estimates include consultant time for both review of engineering plans as well as construction inspection. The portion of the estimate used for review of engineering plans is typically included in the PE Agreement, while the construction inspection estimate is added to the C&M Agreement.
PE Agreements are typically sent with a project location map and a project schematic if available. Additionally, if an approved Exhibit A is available, it may be forwarded with the PE Agreement. PE Agreements are usually executed by the railroad company within three months of submittal, unless the scope of work is unclear and the railroad company has a difficult time estimating the engineering charges up front.
TRF-RSS drafts any necessary PE Agreements and forwards them to the railroad company for execution. Fully executed PE Agreements are uploaded into the Texas Railroad Information Management System (TRIMS) project management module by TRF-RSS and forwarded to the Finance Division (FIN) in order to obligate funding for preliminary engineering charges from the railroad company and to be uploaded into Finance Imaging.Anchor: #i1003361
The District initially arranges to have a project schematic developed. The project schematic is a very general profile view showing the roadway alignment with the railroad and clarifying if any crossings of the railroad are at-grade or grade separated.Anchor: #i1003371
Other Preliminary Agreements
Preliminary activities on the railroad right-of-way may require separate letter agreements with the railroad company. The agreements clarify insurance and Right-of-Entry requirements, as well as provide authorization to the railroad company to provide flagging services. These agreements are typically between the party (TxDOT or local government) providing engineering services on the project and the railroad company. Some preliminary activities could include:
- Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE)
- environmental mitigation (asbestos, lead, etc.).
TRF-RSS drafts these agreements upon notification by the District Railroad Coordinator.
Alternatively, a contractor may execute a survey permit directly with the railroad company provided that the District determines how to reimburse a contractor for any flagging provided by the railroad company.Anchor: #i1003406
After the preliminary design meeting, the District Railroad Coordinator should arrange a diagnostic inspection with the railroad company and project team to visit the project location and discuss:
- train operations, including train speed and counts
- safety requirements
- at-grade crossing safety devices
- impact to track, wayside signals and equipment, if any
- phased construction
- other railroad company and TxDOT projects which could impact the project
- existing billboards on railroad right-of-way that may need to be relocated
- utility relocation
- design issues.
Notes from the diagnostic inspection should clarify all topics discussed with the project team as well as list all attendees. The District Railroad Coordinator compiles the notes.Anchor: #i1003466
Utility companies with facilities which are located on railroad right-of-way have separate existing agreements with the railroad companies. These utilities may also not appear on statewide one call utility location services. The railroad company normally has their own one call center. These utilities may not respond to any request for location without going through the railroad.
If these utilities need adjusting to accommodate a construction project, TxDOT or the local government will need to coordinate the relocation activity with the utility owner.
Railroad utility relocation and railroad company staff coordination of third-party utility relocation costs will be handled through the C&M Agreement.