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Section 3: Project Design Phase

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Exhibit A and Support Documentation

The District produces or uses a consultant to produce an Exhibit A, which is typically a 30% PS&E detailing the work to be performed within railroad right-of-way. Depending on the scope of work involved, various support documents will need to be reviewed and approved by the railroad company before rail coordination can continue.

Further guidance on how to develop an Exhibit A is provided in Chapter 7.

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Underpass Plans

Underpass projects are generally more complicated than all other types of projects and typically require four stages of submittals ranging from:

  • Project concept/schematic
  • 30% plans (Exhibit A)
  • 60% plans
  • 100% plans (Exhibit B).
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Required Documents

Below is a list of required documents for each type of project. Documents may be needed for design approval, for the C&M Agreement, or both.

  • Overpass (new or modification):
    • Exhibit A
    • Design Conformance to Railroad Guidelines Report (DCRG)
    • Metes & Bounds Property Description
    • Photos
    • Boring Logs (if any columns in railroad right-of-way)
    • 5% Theoretical Cost Estimate (if needed)
    • Hydraulic Analysis (if conditions change from existing)
    • Overhead Checklist (KCS projects only)
    • Railroad Work Matrix (if needed).
  • Underpass (new or modification):
    • Exhibit A
    • Boring Logs (if new underpass is being built)
    • Typical Selection Report (TSR) (if new underpass is being built)
    • Metes & Bounds Property Description
    • Photos
    • Cooper E-80 Loading Calculations (for new or modified bridge)
    • Hydraulic Analysis (if conditions change from existing or underpass is new)
    • Railroad Work Matrix (if needed).
  • At-Grade Crossing (new or modification):
    • Exhibit A
    • Metes & Bounds Property Description (if new or widening from existing)
    • Photos
    • Railroad Work Matrix (if needed).
  • If traffic signal preemption is involved:
    • Exhibit A
    • Preemption Form (TxDOT Form 2304)
    • Traffic Signal Timing Data.
  • Culverts, drainage pipes, or conduits on or over railroad right-of-way:
    • Exhibit A
    • Pipeline or Wireline License Request Form (UPRR only)
    • Hydraulic Analysis (if conditions change from existing)
    • Cooper E-80 Loading Calculations (for culverts or pipes under new or existing track)
    • Railroad Work Matrix (if needed).
  • Common usage (ditch, sidewalk, etc.) or longitudinal encroachments:
    • Exhibit A
    • Metes & Bounds Property Description (if project is on railroad right-of-way)
    • Photos
    • Hydraulic Analysis (if conditions change from existing)
    • Railroad Work Matrix (if needed).
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Design and C&M Agreement Approval Documents

A brief description of each type of document is provided in the subsections below.

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Exhibit A

Typically a 30% plan set which details work to be performed within railroad right-of-way and clarifies which work is being performed by the railroad company and by the project contractor. For further guidance, see Chapter 7 of this manual.

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Boring Logs

Logs to document soil conditions at varying depths below ground in the vicinity of the project. The logs are produced following testing in the field.

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Design Conformance to Railroad Guidelines (DCRG) Report

This report is typically a one to two-page report which details how the proposed overpass design meets or does not meet railroad company design guidelines. Sample elements to be described include:

  • a brief description of the project and need
  • if the overpass spans railroad right-of-way (bridge bents outside of right-of-way)
  • the angle that the overpass crosses the rail line
  • vertical clearance
  • horizontal clearance
  • lighting for railroad
  • fencing on bridge
  • utilities and any relocations
  • excavation and demolition work
  • preparation work on railroad right-of-way (tree removal, etc.)
  • if drill shaft locations are within zone of railroad live load surcharge and if shoring will be required
  • how drainage is blocked from falling on railroad right-of-way
  • where future tracks may be placed
  • the need for crash walls, assuming future tracks are in place.
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Metes & Bounds Property Description

The Metes & Bounds Property Description is a legal property description to define the railroad right-of-way encumbered by the construction project, complete with a description and map of parcels. The area encumbered may also include area needed temporarily to facilitate project construction.

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Photos should show the area where the project will occur and clarify if any billboards located on railroad right-of-way will need to be relocated. Photos should be from an actual site visit and not taken from online images.

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5% Theoretical Cost Estimate

In certain cases where an existing at-grade public crossing with active warning devices is being replaced with a bridge, and federal funds are used, the railroad or another entity will need to participate in the project funding. See 23 CFR §646.210 for details. This theoretical cost will be based on the following design criteria:

  • The approach roadway geometry will be designed using the minimum design criteria allowed for the functional class and annual average daily traffic (AADT) of the subject roadway (i.e. minimum k-values, design speed, grades, vertical clearance, etc.). Approach roadway for the theoretical structure will terminate as soon as the grade has returned to the existing roadway profile.
  • The bridge length will be the minimum length possible to fully span the railroad right-of-way. Any other features that would need to be spanned based on actual conditions (ie. other roadways, waterways, etc.) are not considered.
  • The bridge superstructure type for the theoretical structure will be the same as for the proposed bridge span crossing the railroad right-of-way.
  • The width of the theoretical structure will be the same as the proposed bridge width if the number of lanes is kept the same as the number of lanes on the existing grade crossing. If the proposed bridge has more lanes than the existing grade crossing, the theoretical structure will be the width of the proposed bridge minus the width of the number of extra lanes for the proposed bridge.
  • If retaining walls are used for the proposed bridge to limit the amount of embankment, retaining walls will be used for the theoretical structure.
  • Other design features that are required for the proposed structure, such as culverts, illumination, attenuators, riprap, etc., will be included with the theoretical structure.

The geometry of the theoretical structure will be presented as a .pdf file which contains an elevation view showing vertical geometry of the structure and approaches, and a typical section showing the theoretical bridge cross-section.

An estimate will be prepared in spreadsheet form based on the quantities for the theoretical structure. Costs for each item associated with the theoretical structure should be similar to a current project estimate. If no current project estimate is available, the most up-to-date statewide average low bid unit prices should be used.

If the highway or rail line is relocated to eliminate the at-grade crossing, the 5% theoretical cost will be the lesser of the:

  • actual cost of relocation project
  • estimated cost of relocation project
  • estimated cost of a theoretical overpass as described above.
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Hydraulic Analysis

An analysis showing contours and direction of water flow with calculations.

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Overhead Checklist

Also known as the overhead grade separation data sheet, this form gives a general description of design features on overpass projects, including horizontal and vertical clearances, fencing, and lighting.

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Railroad Work Matrix

Some projects may require a greater amount of rail coordination. Sample projects could include:

  • Highway Underpass Replacements
  • New Highway Underpasses
  • Highway Overpasses over Rail Yards
  • Highway Underpass to Overpass Conversion
  • Track Work.

These projects require a detailed outline of the division of labor and materials in order to properly bid out the project to a TxDOT contractor, obtain a proper estimate from the railroad company, and coordinate the project construction schedule. Typical questions that need to be addressed include:

  • Will the railroad company or TxDOT contractor perform track installation and removal?
  • Will the railroad company or TxDOT contractor perform track tie-ins to live track?
  • Are absolute work windows required when the railroad company may not run trains? How long are the requested windows?
  • Who will be supplying the track materials (rail, ties, ballast, subballast)?
  • Will derailers or guardrail be needed? If so, who will provide and install?
  • Who will perform site grading and ground work?
  • Who will provide and install any drainage features?
  • Who will adjust utilities?
  • How will materials be delivered to the project site?
  • Who will deliver the materials?
  • Where will the material(s) be stockpiled?
  • Will live tracks need to be closed to facilitate construction?
  • What equipment will be needed on railroad right-of-way to construct the project?
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Typical Selection Report (TSR)

Used on underpass projects, the Typical Selection Report (TSR) identifies materials and construction methods to be used on the railroad bridge proposed to be built or modified by TxDOT or the local government. In the rare case that an underpass bridge is being developed on a new road alignment or a road alignment with an existing at-grade crossing, the method will typically involve an at-grade shoofly track alignment that routes the railroad around the footprint of the proposed structure to allow for its construction. If this method is performed in a cut excavation, longitudinal shoring will likely be required under the influence of railroad live load.

More commonly, a railroad underpass replaces an existing underpass structure due to deficient vertical or horizontal clearance in conjunction with a safety or added capacity project. In this case, there are three separate options considering maintenance of rail traffic.

  • Option 1: Build the proposed underpass adjacent to the existing underpass and develop a revised railroad alignment that ties into the approaching railroad alignment. The railroad company may be open to this option if there is already a horizontal curve at this location or if the design speeds are low enough that a “jog” in the railroad alignment is acceptable. For tangent existing track alignments, the railroad company typically does not approve of providing such a permanent realignment.
  • Option 2: Build the proposed underpass on the same alignment as the existing and construct a bypass shoofly alignment with a temporary bridge structure (if maintenance of highway traffic is required). This temporary bridge structure can be of lower cost open-deck construction with shorter spans and vertical clearance less than the final ultimate condition for the short duration of its usage. Phasing of the lower roadway construction should be considered in developing the temporary shoofly bridge and new mainline bridge layouts. A subset of the second option involves building a permanent bypass shoofly alignment. This is only entertained if it proves more cost effective overall than a temporary structure and if the railroad company cost participates in providing what effectively is provision for a future second track.
  • Option 3: Construct a “roll-in” where the replacement structure is built near or adjacent to the existing bridge and physically lifted or slid into place on new substructures in a short duration process that limits the duration of complete closure of the railroad (usually 72 hours max). While the “roll-in” technique can generate significant cost savings in avoiding a temporary structure and approach track alignment, it also carries measureable construction risk considering the delay potential to the railroad company. TxDOT has had limited success in achieving railroad company approval of “roll-in” replacements, and they should only be pursued if early coordination with the railroad company is undertaken and if the railroad line has limited traffic.

Structure selection should consider the railroad company’s preferred structure selection if it is feasible. Refer to railroad company published guidelines for preferred structure types. Generally, railroad companies prefer multi-girder steel deck girder bridges due to weight savings (ease of removal replacement) and ease of repair. TxDOT preference is multi-girder composite pre-stressed girder bridges due to construction cost savings, but these have limited span capability and higher vertical clearance requirements in railroad company guidelines.

In the case of replacements involving limited vertical clearance or long span applications, a through plate girder bridge may be needed to minimize structure depth below the rail or span roadways with a large number of lanes and/or clear zone. The designer should be aware that this is the railroad company’s least favorable structure type due to its fracture critical nature and expense. Clear safety improvements or cost savings (e.g. avoiding a pump station or major railroad grade raise) will need to be demonstrated to successfully gain railroad company approval of a through girder structure. Ballasted deck structures are required for all underpass projects over a roadway, and TxDOT preference is for a composite concrete deck in lieu of a steel plate deck if railroad company approval can be obtained and target vertical clearance is achievable.

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Preemption Form (TxDOT Form 2304)

This form clarifies the amount of advanced preemption time needed from the railroad company for a traffic signal adjacent to an at-grade crossing.

NOTE: See the Traffic Operations Division website for instructions and policy updates regarding this form.

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Traffic Signal Timing Data

If a traffic signal controller is existing, data should be downloaded from the controller to show minimum green, yellow change, and red clearance times during normal and preemption phases as well as delay time and track clearance green time. If a traffic signal controller is not existing, show proposed times to be programmed into the controller.

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Pipeline or Wireline License Request Form

This form is provided to the railroad company to clarify exact location in regards to the railroad where pipe or wire will be installed, material used for pipe or conduit, and what the line will carry.

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Cooper E-80 Loading Calculations

Cooper E-80 Loading Calculations are calculations for underpass bridges or culverts under a track to verify that proposed element meets Cooper E-80 standard.

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Design Approval Process

After the aforementioned documents have been approved by the District, the District Railroad Coordinator forwards them on to the TRF-RSS Contract Specialist who then coordinates the review of the documents with the proper Division personnel. Division reviews may include:

  • Bridge Design
  • Grade Crossing Warning Devices
  • Traffic Signal Preemption
  • Track Design
  • Hydraulics
  • Roadway Design
  • Pedestrian Elements
  • Landscape Architecture.

After all comments have been resolved from the divisions, the TRF-RSS Contract Specialist forwards the documents to the railroad company for review.

It is not TRF-RSS practice for consultants or districts to send documents for review directly to the railroad company without a prior Division review. Division reviews verify that project design not only meets railroad company requirements, but also meets TxDOT requirements. In some cases, TxDOT may not agree with all design requirements with the railroad company and will request an exception as stated in the DCRG or TSR.

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Preemption Request Form

When traffic signal preemption is involved, some railroad companies may request that a preemption request form is completed and signed. The form clarifies which preemption circuits are requested on the project.

The TRF-RSS Contract Specialist will arrange to have the form signed by the District Traffic Signals Engineer. Preemption forms, reports, and request forms are uploaded into the TRIMS project management module by TRF-RSS.

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Design Approval Expiration

Design approval from a railroad company typically lasts for three years. If a project has design approval and is subsequently pulled from letting, the Exhibit A and support materials will need to be reviewed again if the three-year period has expired. Railroad companies update design standards from time to time, so if design approval was given previously, it may be rejected in the future.

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Railroad Company Cost Estimates

Construction projects will typically require an estimate from the railroad company for labor and materials provided by the railroad company on the project. Typical construction activities requiring a railroad company cost estimate include:

  • flagging
  • inspection
  • planking or replanking (crossing surface)
  • installation, relocation, or removal of grade crossing warning devices
  • railroad circuitry adjustments
  • installation or adjustment of drainage structures under tracks (in some cases)
  • relocating utilities on railroad right-of-way (that run parallel to track).

Prior to drafting a C&M Agreement, TRF-RSS will review the estimates to verify:

  • project location and description information is correct
  • estimates are accurate given comparable projects in recent past
  • quantities of major items match design shown in Exhibit A. Major items for grade crossing warning devices typically include: gates, cabins, mast flashers, cantilevers, foundations, signs, and flashing light pairs. On planking projects, verify length and size of crossing surface panels and that rail and tie quantities are reasonable.
  • profit is not being charged by a railroad company.
  • a maximum 5% overhead rate is charged if an audited rate does not exist for a contractor or railroad company. FHWA approved additive rates are used by railroad companies as indicated on the railroad estimate.

Any railroad wireline diagrams should also be verified to ensure:

  • correct location of shunt placement given any preemption time requested and speed of fastest train on each track
  • location of warning devices matches design in Exhibit A
  • warning devices and flashing lights shown match design in Exhibit A
  • gate and cantilever lengths match Exhibit A
  • cabin location matches Exhibit A. However, the railroad company may change quadrant location and install in another quadrant. In this case, the Exhibit A should be updated.
  • distances between cabin, warning devices, roadway, and rail match Exhibit A or accepted railroad standard
  • roadway design (number of lanes, medians, shoulders, and widths of these items) matches Exhibit A
  • if needed, phased implementation shown to match Exhibit A.
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