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Section 7: Non-Radioactive Hazardous Materials Routing

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The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is the state routing agency in charge of approving all non-radioactive hazardous materials (NRHM) routes in Texas. A statewide listing of NRHM routes and maps showing the limits of these routes is available online on the Non-Radioactive Hazardous Materials Routing Publications page of the TxDOT website.

The Texas Department of State Health Services is responsible for radioactive hazardous materials routing. Inquiries and requests for licensing may be forwarded to (512) 834-6770.

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Rules for NRHM routing are contained in the Texas Administrative Code under Title 43, Sections 25.101-25.104. These rules authorize a political subdivision of a state to establish NRHM route designations consistent with federal regulations ( Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.), Part 397, Subpart C).

As the state routing agency, TxDOT is required to approve all new NRHM routing designations or revisions to existing routing designations. In addition, state law requires a municipality with a population of more than 850,000 to develop a route for commercial motor vehicles carrying NRHM on a road or highway in the municipality and to submit the proposed route to TxDOT for approval.

A city or political subdivision cannot simply pass an ordinance to establish an NRHM route. A new NRHM route or modification to an existing route must be established in accordance with the state and federal regulations listed above.

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Specialized terms used in this section are defined as follows:

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  • Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) - any vehicle used on the highways for the transportation of hazardous materials in commerce in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations issued under the federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Act ( Title 49, United States Code (U.S.C.) §5101 et seq.).
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  • Hazardous Material - a substance or material, including a hazardous substance, that has been determined by the United States Secretary of Transportation, pursuant to the Hazardous Materials Regulations contained in 49 C.F.R., Chapter I, Subchapter C, to be capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, or property when transported in commerce, and which has been so designated.
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  • Highway Route - any road or highway open to the public. This includes roads under the jurisdiction of a city or county.
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  • Local Delivery - transportation that originates within the routing boundaries established by a political subdivision, is bound for the political subdivision having designated routes, or both.
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  • NRHM - abbreviation for non-radioactive hazardous materials. An NRHM transported by a motor vehicle in certain types and quantities requires placarding pursuant to Table 1 or 2 of 49 C.F.R. §172.504. NRHM includes gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuel.
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  • Political Subdivision - a county, municipality, local board, authority or commission, or public corporation, established under the laws of the State of Texas, that has the authority to construct and maintain a public road or highway.
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  • Prohibited Route - portions of a highway route (see definition for "highway route" above) on which the transportation of all NRHM is prohibited for both local delivery and through traffic at all times.
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  • Routing Designation - any regulation, limitation, restriction, curfew, time of travel restriction, lane restriction, routing ban, port-of-entry designation, or route weight restriction applicable to the highway transportation of NRHMs over a specific highway route or portion of a route.
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  • Through Route - route intended for through traffic transportation that originates outside of the routing boundaries established by a political subdivision and whose destination is outside of these boundaries, and involves no deliveries or pickups within these boundaries.
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Who Initiates the Process?

Typically, a political subdivision initiates the process of obtaining an NRHM designation.

Joint Submissions. NRHM routes may be submitted as a joint proposal on behalf of two or more political subdivisions if the proposed route affects multiple jurisdictions. References to "political subdivision" in this section also apply to submitters of joint proposals.

NOTE: In special circumstances and with the TxDOT executive director's advance permission, TxDOT may propose an NRHM route on any road or highway of the State open to the public for the enhancement of public safety in the transportation of NRHM. Such action will be on a limited basis. It is the intention of TxDOT to have political subdivisions initiate and propose NRHM routes. For more information regarding the procedures for TxDOT to establish an NRHM route, contact the Traffic Operations Division (TRF).

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Financial Responsibility

The political subdivision is responsible for all costs of NRHM route development, including proposal preparation, public hearings, signs, sign supports, sign installation, and sign maintenance. The TxDOT local district office should obtain or amend any agreements as appropriate.

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Establishing or Revising an NRHM Route

In establishing or revising an NRHM route, a political subdivision must comply with both federal and state regulations for NRHM routing, including 49 C.F.R. Part 397 and 49 C.F.R. Part 171 (Federal); and 43 Texas Administrative Code (T.A.C.), Sections 25.101-25.104 (State).

The following steps outline the process of establishing or revising an NRHM route.

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  1. Initial Contact. A political subdivision considering the establishment of an NRHM route must contact the local TxDOT district office and any other political subdivisions within a 25 mile radius of any point along the proposed route. The political subdivision must consult with the district office and other affected political subdivisions during the process of determining the best NRHM route. Coordination with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the local emergency planning council or committee is encouraged.
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  3. Route Analysis and Proposal. The political subdivision must develop a route proposal. The written proposal must address all of the federal standards and factors listed in 49 C.F.R. Section 397.71(b). The political subdivision must use the most current version of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) publication entitled Guidelines for Applying Criteria to Designate Routes for Transporting Hazardous Materials or an equivalent routing analysis tool to develop the route proposal. If an equivalent routing analysis tool is used, the political subdivision must include in its route proposal a written explanation of how the tool is equivalent to the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) standards.
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  5. Local Public Hearing. The political subdivision must hold at least one public hearing on the proposed NRHM routing designation. Public hearings may take the form of a city council or commissioners court meeting and must conform to all applicable state laws governing public meetings, including the Texas Open Meetings Act, Government Code, Chapter 551.
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  7. Proposal Submission. After performing the analysis and conducting a local public hearing, the political subdivision must submit eight copies of the NRHM route designation proposal and one original color map of the proposed NRHM route to TRF for approval. The proposal must include:

    If a proposed route extends beyond the proposing political subdivision’s jurisdiction into an adjacent jurisdiction, then a city council resolution from the affected adjacent jurisdiction must be included with the routing proposal.

    The proposal and map must be submitted to the Texas Department of Transportation, Traffic Operations Division, 125 E. 11th Street, Austin, TX, 78701-2483.

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  9. Proposal Review:
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    • TxDOT Public Hearing. TRF will provide the public with notice through publication in the Texas Register and a 30-day period in which to comment. TRF will also conduct a public hearing to receive additional comments on the proposed NRHM routing designation. TRF will publish a notice satisfying the criteria described in Step 3 above. The notice must be published in two newspapers of general circulation in the affected area. The public hearing must be held in Austin, Texas, and conducted before the TxDOT executive director or a designee of the executive director.

    NOTE: If the proposed route is located in Austin, then two public hearings would be required in Austin, the local and the statewide.

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    • Coordination. TRF provides copies of the proposed route designation for review and comment to the local TxDOT district office, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) headquarters office, and appropriate TxDOT division offices.
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    • Resolution of Concerns. In coordination with the local TxDOT district office, TRF contacts the political subdivision proposing the route to resolve any concerns or issues about the proposed route designation and subsequent proposal expressed at the public hearing or received as written comments.
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  11. Coordination with other States and Indian Tribes. At least 60 days prior to establishing the NRMH routing designation, TRF will provide written notice to the officials responsible for NRMH highway routing in all other affected states or Indian tribes. If no response is received within 60 days from the date of receipt of the notification of the proposed routing designation, the routing designation will be considered approved by the affected states or Indian tribes.

    TRF will attempt to resolve any concerns or disagreements related to the proposed routing designation expressed by any consulted states or Indian tribes. If these concerns or disagreements are not resolved, TxDOT will petition the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for resolution of the dispute in accordance with 49 C.F.R. Section 397.75.

    Authorization and Approval. If TxDOT determines that a route designation has met all criteria for approval, TRF will submit the proposed NRHM routing designation to the TxDOT executive director for approval. Upon approval by the TxDOT executive director, TRF will notify the political subdivision in writing that the proposed routing designation is authorized, and will issue appropriate notice to the FHWA and the Texas DPS.
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  13. Route Designation and Signing:
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    • Designation. Upon receipt of a letter of approval from TxDOT, the political subdivision must designate the NRHM route by ordinance, resolution, rule, regulation, or other official order. The political subdivision must forward a copy of the order to TRF within 30 days of receipt of the letter of approval.
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    • Signing. After passage of the order, the political subdivision must submit the proposed sign and installation locations of the NRHM route designation to the local TxDOT district office for approval. All signs must conform to the latest version of the Texas Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (TMUTCD). (See “Route Signing Guidelines” below.)

      The local TxDOT district office should submit the proposed signing schematic to TRF for review.

      The political subdivision must coordinate sign installations with the local TxDOT district office prior to placement.

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Route Signing Guidelines

The TMUTCD contains some guidelines for signing hazardous cargo routes. This section elaborates on the use of these signs. In an effort to limit the number of signs and provide statewide consistency while satisfying the federal reporting requirements, the guidelines listed in this section should be followed.

Through Routing (Large Guide Signs). The Hazardous Material (R14-2) sign is used to identify through hazardous material (HM) routes. In most cases, the R14-2 sign is installed on pull-through guide signs located on the designated HM route. The R14-2 sign should be located above the parent sign as shown on the Traffic Engineering Standard Sheets. Where two through HM routes intersect, the R14-2 sign should be carried on advance guide and exit direction signs in addition to pull-through guide signs. The HM MUST FOLLOW (R14-6T) sign, as shown on the Traffic Engineering Standard Sheets, may be used on a numbered inbound route in advance of the designated through HM routes as appropriate. This sign may either be ground-mounted or mounted overhead (see Figure 5-6).

Typical signing for a designated through
NRHM route on an expressway or freeway (click in image to see full-size image) Anchor: #VIGPQLWHgrtop

Figure 5-6. Typical signing for a designated through NRHM route on an expressway or freeway

Through Routing (Small Roadside Signs). The R14-2 sign may be mounted below the existing ground mounted confirmation route marker assembly. The R14-2 sign is treated as another route marker, but must always be mounted on the bottom of the assembly, directly below the route shield. The R14-2 sign may be mounted below existing junction markers where two through HM routes intersect (which may include FM or SH routes) (see Figure 5-7).

Typical signing for a designated through NRHM route on small roadside route marker assemblies (click in image to see full-size image) Anchor: #QSMGJKDKgrtop

Figure 5-7. Typical signing for a designated through NRHM route on small roadside route marker assemblies

If the R14-2 sign is added to an existing sign support, then the R14-2 sign must be installed at the minimum 7-foot height. Sign post lengths may need to be modified when adding the R14-2 sign to existing supports. In some cases, the sign post may need to be replaced to accommodate the additional R14-2 sign.

Prohibited Routes. The Hazardous Material Prohibition (R14-3) sign is used on routes where hazardous material is prohibited at all times. The R14-3 sign must be used as described in Section 2B. 62 of the TMUTCD. This includes mounting the R14-3 sign above pull-through, advance guide, and exit direction signs. Note that the use of this sign will be very limited because it applies to routes that are prohibited at all times. Signing that contains stipulations for certain types of NRHM or special time-of-day allowances is discouraged.

Signing Upgrades. Any signing upgrades should reflect the guidelines outlined here.

TRF Review of Schematics. Signing schematics for NRHM routes may be submitted to TRF for review.

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