Chapter 5: Spur Tracks

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Section 1: Overview

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Introduction

Spur track crossings are generally discouraged. However, under certain circumstances, TxDOT may allow both grade-separated and at-grade spur track crossings on conventional highways. On interstate and other controlled access highways, only grade-separated crossings may be allowed.

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Grade-separated Crossings

TxDOT may allow a grade-separated crossing if the industry or railroad desiring the crossing agrees to finance and construct it.

The district, in conjunction with the Design Division (DES) and the Traffic Operations Division (TRF), determines the need for a grade separation based on the following factors:

  • average daily traffic volume
  • volume, type, and time of train movements
  • location of proposed crossing
  • safety of the traveling public
  • other pertinent considerations.

Cost. The Texas Administrative Code (43 TAC §25.75) requires that the total cost of constructing a grade separation be borne by the party applying for the spur permit. (See Chapter 7 of this volume for more information on grade separations.)

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At-grade Crossings

A spur track at-grade crossing may be allowed on non-interstate and non-controlled access highways if, in the opinion of the district and DES, the anticipated volumes of train and vehicular traffic and other factors indicate that the crossing will not be overly hazardous to the traveling public.

Costs. If a spur track grade crossing is allowed, all costs of the crossing pavement, highway adjustments, warning devices, and maintenance is borne by the party requesting the spur track.

Conditions may be specified whereby a change in traffic or train conditions or volumes will require a future separation of grades at no expense to TxDOT.

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Request for Crossing

A railroad company, an industry, or both can request a spur track crossing. If a railroad company plans to provide rail service to the industry making the request, then both the railroad and industry should become a party to the request and agreement executed with TxDOT for the spur track permit.

Requests to cross TxDOT’s right-of-way with a spur track must be submitted in writing to the district involved.

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Processing a Request

Upon receiving a request for a spur track crossing, a district proceeds as follows:

  1. The district investigates the possibility of the applicant (railroad or industry or both) obtaining rail service by alternate means that will not require an additional highway crossing. These means could be servicing through a different railroad company or through joint use of a nearby existing spur track crossing.
  2. If an alternate plan is impracticable, the district should forward the spur track request to TRF, along with a report and recommendations. The report should include:
    • a map showing the location of the proposed spur track crossing
    • average daily traffic at this location
    • applicant’s estimate of the number and length of trains anticipated to cross the highway during each 24-hour period.

Upon receiving a request and recommendations concerning a proposed spur track from the district, TRF:

  1. reviews the request
  2. prepares a memorandum to TxDOT administration requesting approval of the spur track permit.

Upon administrative approval, TRF:

  1. forwards a copy of the approval to the district
  2. prepares the necessary agreement
  3. works with the district and railroad company or industry or both in preparing, negotiating, and executing the agreement.
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