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Section 3: Federal Railroad Signal Program

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Introduction

This section describes eligibility, funding, selection, and processing for projects under the Federal Railroad Signal Program. (For a basic description of the program, see Section 2 of this chapter.)

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Eligibility

Project Eligibility. All public highway-rail grade crossings are eligible for the Federal Railroad Signal Program, except for industry spur track crossings located on the state highway system where the spur track crossed an existing highway. For more information on spur tracks, see Chapter 4 of this volume.

Eligible Work. Under the federal program, project work may include:

  • improvement of roadway alignment
  • consolidation and closing of redundant, non-essential grade crossings
  • removal of sight distance obstructions, etc.
  • upgrade of railroad warning devices.
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Funding

Funding participation is 90 percent federal and 10 percent state. TxDOT does not require a local funding match for projects off the state highway system. However, local participation in these projects is encouraged and can include:

  • utility adjustments
  • placement or adjustment of curb and gutter sections
  • drainage improvements
  • roadway alignment improvements
  • removing sight distance obstructions located off railroad right-of-way (for example, trimming or removing vegetation)
  • maintaining pavement markings and advance warning signs.
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Project Selection and Prioritization

Statewide selection and priority ranking of projects is based on the Texas Priority Index (described in Section 4 of this chapter). The formula used to calculate the index (also described in Section 4) relies on data contained in the state railroad crossing inventory. (See Chapter 1 of this volume for information on the crossing inventory.) Crossings having the highest relative priority are selected for railroad crossing signal warning devices or upgrading, as funds become available under the federal signal program.

Tentative Project List. Initially, TRF develops a tentative project list and distributes it to the districts for review and comment. The list contains projects meeting the program criteria making them eligible for modification in the next fiscal year. The districts are encouraged to make on-site investigations of all crossings on the list to determine the accuracy of the information.

After the on-site investigations, the districts should recommend deletions or additions of projects based on discrepancies or changes in vehicle traffic, rail traffic, type of warning device in place, school bus information, or crash data reported in the inventory. Railroad companies are also furnished this list and have the opportunity to make recommendations or corrections to the information.

NOTE: Districts are encouraged to make periodic reviews of all public crossings under their jurisdiction to ensure that the information reported in the inventory and used to calculate the priority indexes is reasonably accurate.

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Project Processing Overview

Projects selected under the federal railroad signal programs are processed as follows:

  1. The Texas Transportation Commission approves bank balance allocation program funding amount and method of project selection.
  2. TRF coordinates with the districts and railroads to prioritize projects and allocate funds until the established funding is expended.
  3. The FHWA obligates the funds.
  4. District performs a topographic survey of location, prepares preliminary layouts, and submits them to TRF. (See Section 5 of this chapter for details on project layout preparation.)
  5. TRF schedules diagnostic inspection. Diagnostic team agrees on and recommends safety improvements to be accomplished. (See Section 6 of this chapter for details of the diagnostic inspection.)
  6. District develops project layouts (to be used as Exhibit A) from diagnostic team field notes and sketches and submits them on 11×17 inch sheets with signed, sealed, and dated title and layout sheets to TRF. (See Section 5 of this chapter for details on layout sheet preparation.)
  7. TRF reviews project layouts (Exhibit A) and transmits it to the railroad, requesting approval of plans, estimate, and wiring diagrams. (See Section 7 of this chapter for details.)
  8. Railroad approves project layouts and prepares estimate and wiring diagrams and sends them to TRF. (See Section 7 of this chapter for details.)
  9. TRF reviews estimate and wiring diagrams; prepares and approves Exhibit B set of approved plans, specifications, and estimates; and sends items to railroad and district as approved and ready for construction, following issuance of work order. (See Section 7 of this chapter for details.)
  10. TRF issues work order upon request from railroad.
  11. District coordinates any work to be done by the state, city, or county; stakes the project; provides fill material, signing, pavement markings, and construction inspection; and advises TRF when project is complete. (See Section 8 of this chapter for details.)
  12. Railroad coordinates with district and performs the installation, then advises the district and TRF when signals are in service. (See Section 8 of this chapter for details.)
  13. TRF schedules final inspection with district, city or county, and railroad and provides certification that project is complete to FHWA. (See Section 8 of this chapter for details.)
  14. Railroad bills TxDOT.
  15. TxDOT pays railroad.
  16. FHWA reimburses TxDOT.
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