Section 2: Preliminary Activities
TRF-RSS will compile estimated preliminary engineering costs for FSP projects and request a separate Control-Section-Job (CSJ) from the Finance Division Letting Management Section to be set up for system-wide preliminary engineering for:
- Shortline railroad companies (all under the same CSJ).
The Finance Division Letting Management Section will compile a Federal Project Authorization & Agreement (FPAA) to be sent to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for each of these CSJs. The FHWA will review and approve the FPAAs to obligate federal funds for preliminary engineering. This occurs prior to issuing a System-wide PE Agreement to the railroad companies.
These funds are used for all activities up to and including TRF-RSS issuing the Exhibit B. At that time, any funds for the work will be part of the Construction CSJ and under the review and approval of the District.
Statewide ranking of projects is performed by TRF-RSS annually based on the Revised Texas Priority Index (TPIREV) process. The TPIREV process separates active and passive crossings and evaluates each set independently.
Active crossings are evaluated under a formula which includes a crash prediction model and a five-year crash history. Factors and weightings used in the crash prediction model are based on historical crash data for at-grade crossings in Texas. These factors include:
- whether the roadway is paved or not
- whether the crossing is in an urban or rural area
- the number of roadway lanes over the crossing
- the number of railroad tracks at the crossing
- the maximum train speed at the crossing
- the minimum train speed at the crossing
- total daily trains
- whether there is a nearby road intersection
- the highest roadway approach speed limit at the crossing.
Passive crossings are evaluated under a four-step process:
- Eliminate any crossings with less than two (2) daily trains and no (0) crashes in the past five years.
- Eliminate any crossings meeting non-qualification criteria.
- Apply warrants.
- Rank by Texas Passive Crossings Index (TPCI).
Step 1: Initial Non-Qualification Criteria
Any passive crossings with less than two (2) daily trains and no (0) crashes in the past five years are eliminated from consideration.
Step 2: Non-Qualification Criteria
Any passive crossings remaining after Step 1 are eliminated from consideration if all of the following criteria are met:
- There have been no crashes in the past five years
- The crossing has only one (1) track
- No passenger trains at the crossing
- AADT is below median of initial subset (crossings after Step 1)
- Maximum train speed is less than or equal to 30 mph
- Less than five (5) daily trains
- No nearby intersection (within 500 feet)
- Crossing angle is 60 degrees or greater.
Step 3: Apply Warrants
Any crossings remaining after Step 2 are ranked first based on the number of warrants met. These warrants include:
- At least one (1) crash in the past five years
- Trains per day ≥ 95% cumulative percentile (urban and rural crossings evaluated separately)
- School buses per day ≥ 94% cumulative percentile (of subset of crossings serving school buses)
- Number of tracks at crossing ≥ 2
- Maximum train speed ≥ 49 mph and AADT ≥ 75% cumulative percentile (urban and rural crossings evaluated separately)
- AADT or Exposure (train counts x AADT) ≥ 95% cumulative percentile for rural areas or ≥ 90% cumulative percentile for urban areas
- Average number of heavy vehicles per day ≥ 95% cumulative percentile
- Passenger trains per day ≥ 1
- Highway parallel to and less than 75 feet from tracks when roadway speed limit is greater than 30 mph and exposure ≥ 75% cumulative percentile (urban and rural crossings evaluated separately) or school buses per day ≥ 50% cumulative percentile or average number of heavy vehicles per day ≥ 75% cumulative percentile.
Step 4: Rank by TPCI
The TPCI ranking formula is needed to distinguish between crossings meeting the same number of warrants in Step 3. TPCI is a formula that evaluates and weights the following factors:
- Crashes in the past five years
- Trains per day
- School buses per day
- Number of railroad tracks at the crossing
- Train speed
- Presence of nearby traffic signal
- Heavy vehicles per day
- Presence of nearby intersection (non-signalized)
- Highest roadway approach speed limit at the crossing
- Crossing angle with roadway
- Presence of humped or dipped crossing.
It is noted that the crossing prioritization process currently does not include stopping distance or sight distance information due to a lack of existing data.
Preliminary Project List
The percentage of active and passive crossings chosen for the program year will determine how to integrate the two lists together. For example, if the list includes 300 total crossings with 200 active crossings and 100 passive crossings, the top two ranked active crossings will be ranked 1st and 2nd with the top ranked passive crossing ranking 3rd. Or if 300 total crossings were chosen with 150 active crossings and 150 passive crossings, the top ranked active crossing will be ranked 1st with the top ranked passive crossing 2nd. Active and passive crossings will be integrated together in the same format until the total number of desired crossings is obtained.
Before a finalized list of crossings selected for diagnostic inspections is completed, adjustments are made to the TPIREV ranking by the following processes:
- TRF-RSS removes any crossings that may have an existing FSP project.
- Districts may remove crossings that have invalid data.
- Districts may recommend other crossings to be added for safety or preemption upgrades.
- Railroad companies may remove crossings that have invalid data.
- Railroad companies may recommend other crossings be added for safety or preemption upgrades.
- Railroad companies may recommend upgrades be performed as part of a corridor improvement.
Although the FSP has limited funding each year, corridor improvements to upgrade a series of at-grade crossings along the same track may be eligible for funding under the FSP if:
- deemed high priority to TxDOT
- the railroad company chooses to cost participate
- significant savings could result by upgrading all crossings at the same time.
TRF-RSS will evaluate any proposed corridor improvements with the District and the railroad company to determine eligibility.
System-wide PE Agreement
Some of the railroad companies will require a System-wide PE Agreement prior to attending diagnostic inspections. TRF-RSS will issue the list of crossings to each of the railroad companies, commonly referred to as the Preliminary Project List, for signature and concurrence on the initial list for diagnostic inspections. A fully executed System-wide PE Agreement provides a method to pay the railroad companies and railroad consultants for:
- travel and per diem costs related to diagnostic inspections
- labor for attending diagnostic inspections
- track surveys.