Railway-Highway Crossing (Section 130) Program

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STATE OF NEVADA RAILROAD SAFETY PROGRAM

Railway-Highway Crossing (Section 130) Program

The Railway-Highway Crossing Program (Section 130) provides funds for safety improvements to reduce the number of fatalities, injuries, and crashes at public railway-highway grade crossings.  The Section 130 program in accordance with 23 USC 130(d), requires each state to conduct and systematically maintain a survey of all highways to identify those railroad crossings that may require separation, relocation, or protective devices, and establish and implement a schedule of project for this purpose.  The State of Nevada is required to submit annual reports on the progress being made to implement this program along with updating information in the DOT crossing inventory database, including information about warning devices and signage, for each public crossing.  The crossing inventory database is maintained by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

The Section 130 program funds are eligible for projects at all public crossings including roadways, bike trails and pedestrian paths.  Fifty percent of a State's apportionment is dedicated for the installation of protective devices at crossings.  The remainder of the funds apportionment can be used for any hazard elimination project, including protective devices.  Typically Section 130 projects are funded at a 90% federal share, however certain projects under 23 USC 120(c) (1) allow for up to a 100% federal share.  These include the closure of at grade crossing and the installation of traffic signs and signals.  The Section 130 program was established for the safety of the traveling public.

The Nevada Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Engineering Division, Railroad Safety is considered the administrative agency for the State of Nevada for all public at-grade railroad crossings.  The State of Nevada has 288 public at-grade railroad crossings, 138 public/private grade separated railroad crossings, & 268 private railroad crossings.

Brandon Henning, P.E.
Nevada Department of Transportation
Traffic Safety Engineering
Railroad/Safety Program Coordinator
1263 S. Stewart Street
Carson City, NV 89712
(775)888-7333
bhenning@dot.nv.gov

 The NDOT Railroad Safety Division works with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, Federal Railroad Administration, and Federal Highway Administration to ensure a successful program for the State of Nevada.  

Public Utilities Commission of Nevada

 

The Public Utilities Commission (PUCN) is the regulator agency for the State of Nevada for the Railroad, the tracks or crossings.

The PUCN maintains a Rail Safety Program as part of Nevada’s State Participation Program with the United States Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration.  The agreement provides that the PUCN shall employ FRA certified inspectors in one or more of five inspection disciplines: Track, operating practices, motive power and equipment, signal and train control and hazardous materials.  PUCN Railroad Safety

The PUCN employs inspection personnel in the following four disciplines:

  1. Track
  2. Operating practices
  3. Motive power and equipment
  4. Hazardous material

PUCN Rail Safety in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration participates in the enforcement of federal safety regulations and orders applicable to railroad track, hazardous materials shipments, rolling equipment and operations in Nevada. The division also reviews applications to modify or construct new railroad crossings.

PUCN Rail Safety Contact: (702)486-7239

Federal Railroad Administration 

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) was created by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966. It is one of ten agencies within the U.S. Department of Transportation concerned with intermodal transportation.  The mission for FRA is to enable the safe, reliable, and efficient movement of people and goods for a strong America, no and in the future. http://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0001 

All railroad crossings in America are regulated by a Federal Government oversight agency called the FRA.  The FRA collects information on each crossing throughout the country as to its location using GPS coordinates, current condition, the number of collisions etc.  The FRA uses this information to set uniform safety standards at each railroad crossing throughout the country.  This provides motorists with clear and easy to understand warnings that are uniformly recognizable at each railroad crossing whether you travel in Ohio or New Mexico.

FRA Contact Region 7 - Sacramento, Ca:

Govern the following States:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Nevada
  • Utah

FRA Region 7 Contact Information: (916) 498-6540

801 I Street, Suite 466 
Sacramento, CA 95814

Hot Line: 800-724-5997

Railroad

The railroad maintains all devices within railroad right of way.  They maintain their tracks, signs and signals at all crossings.  They do not maintain pavement markings, advance flashers and advance signs.

Railroad in the State of Nevada

Roadway Authorities

This includes the Department of Transportation, Cities and Counties that have public at-grade railroad crossings within their jurisdiction.  The following is a list of responsibilities that each roadway authority shall follow:

  • Maintain roadway approaches to Railroad Crossings.
  • Maintain and ensure Railroad Warning Pavement markings meet current NDOT and MUTCD Standards.
  • Maintain Advance warning signs.
  • Maintain and inspect active advance warning signs (These devices are connected to the UP signal, so inspections need to be coordinated with UP personnel.)

Section 130 Eligibility

The Section 130 program funds are eligible for projects at all public crossings including roadways, bike trails and pedestrian paths. 

The FAST Act continues all prior program eligibilities.  These include the following:

  • Crossing consolidations (including the funding of incentive payments up to $15,000 on a 50 percent matching basis to local jurisdictions for crossing closures.
  • Installation of grade separations at crossings or repair of existing grade separations.
  • Signing, Pavement Markings, & Illumination
  • New highway-railroad grade crossing signals
  • Upgraded highway-railroad grade crossing signals or circuits
  • Improved crossing surfaces
  • Traffic signal interconnections/preemption
  • Sight distance or geometric improvements
  • Data improvements (up to 2 percent of apportionment)

Regular federal-aid highway funds may be used for safety improvements such as the installation of standard signs and pavement markings; the installation or upgrading of active traffic control devices; crossing illumination; crossing approach and surface improvements; new grade separations and the reconstruction of existing grade separations; crossing closures or the removal of existing crossings; and crossing closures by the relocation of highways and/or the relocation of railroads.

A State may use up to 2% of its railway-highway crossings funds for compilation and analysis of data for the required annual report to the Secretary on the progress that is being made implementing the program.  Activities funded under this program are also eligible for funding under the broader HSIP eligibilities. The STP also includes eligibility for funding of railway-highway crossings projects. 

It also extends eligibility to include the relocation of highways to eliminate railway-highway grade crossings and projects at railway-highway grade crossings to eliminate hazards posed by blocked crossings due to idling trains. [FAST Act § 1412] If a State demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Secretary that the State has met all its needs for installation of protective devices at railway-highway crossings, the State may use funds made available under the program for any purpose eligible under the HSIP. [23 U.S.C. 130(e) (3)]

 Section 130 Funding

The Section 130 program funds are set-aside from the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) apportionment.  The funding is appropriated at fifty percent (50%) for the installation of protection devices at crossings.  The remaining 50% can be used for any hazard elimination projects, including protective devices.   In accordance with 23 USC 130(k), States may use up to 2% of  the section 130 funding for the compilation and analysis of data to support the reporting requirements.

 The Section 130 projects are funded at a 90% federal share.  The remaining 10% share will come from the railroad.  If the match for a project is coming from NDOT or City/County the remaining share will be 5%.  The federal share of the project would then be 95%.

 In accordance with 23 USC 130(i), the funds can be used as incentive payments for local agencies to close public crossings provided there are matching funds from the railroad.  Also, in accordance with 23 USC 130(h), the funds can be used for local agencies to provide matching funds for State-funded projects.

 The FAST Act has set aside five years of funding for the Section 130 program:

FY 2016:    $350 million – State of Nevada FY 2016: $1.125 million
FY 2017:    $230 million – State of Nevada FY 2017: $1.150 million
FY 2018:    $235 million – State of Nevada FY 2018: $1.175 million
FY 2019:    $240 million – State of Nevada FY 2019: $1.200 million
FY 2020:    $245 million – State of Nevada FY 2020: $1.225 million

 The State of Nevada is set to receive $5,875,000 over the five years of funding through the FAST Act.

Resources

Highway-Railway Grade Crossing Action Plan and Project Prioritization Noteworthy Practices (FHWA, 2016) – State highway-rail grade crossing action plans identify specific solutions for improving safety at crossings; focus on crossings that have experienced multiple accidents or at high risk for such accidents; and cover a five-year time period. FHWA and FRA developed this model grade crossing action plan for States that wish to update existing State Action Plans or develop a new State Action Plan to address grade crossing safety.

FAST Act Railway-Highway Crossings Program Fact Sheet (FHWA, 2016) – This resource provides a high-level overview of the Railway-Highway Crossings Program provisions under the FAST Act.

Highway/Rail Grade Crossings Information Resource Center (TRB, ongoing) – This website provides a gateway to information and resources pertaining to the safety and other affected characteristics (including economic considerations, traffic flow and delay, and countermeasures) of both highway and rail traffic at points where they intersect at grade, including the proximate surrounding environment such as rail transit facilities.

Recording Devices for Interconnected Grade Crossing and Intersection Signal Systems: An Informational Report  (FHWA, 2012) – This resource provides technical information to assist highway agencies and railroads with integrating effective event recording devices within interconnected/preempted highway-rail grade crossing signal systems. It is intended for those agencies installing new systems as well as those retrofitting existing systems.

Driver Behavior at Highway-Railroad Grade Crossings: A Literature Review from 1990-2006 (FRA, 2008) – This document reviews research addressing driver behavior at highway-railroad grade crossings to understand decisions and actions at these crossings to develop better countermeasures to discourage dangerous driving behavior. Updates 1990 literature review Driver Behavior at Rail-Highway Crossings.

Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Handbook [HTML] [PDF] (FHWA, 2007) – This reference document provides general information on highway-rail crossings; characteristics of the crossing environment and users; and the physical and operational improvements that can be made at highway-rail grade crossings to enhance the safety and operation of both highway and rail traffic over crossing intersections. The guidelines and alternative improvements presented in this handbook are primarily those that have proved effective and are accepted nationwide.

Compilation of State Laws and Regulations Affecting Highway-Rail Grade Crossings (FRA, 2002) – This resource provides overview of various State laws and regulations concerning every aspect of the regulation of highway-rail grade crossings and driver behavior at those crossings. It covers all fifty States and the District of Columbia.

Guidance on Traffic Control Devices at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings (USDOT, 2002) – This document discusses existing FHWA and FRA policies concerning highway-rail grade crossings to provide guidance to users who understand general engineering and operations of highway-rail grade crossings.

Investigation of Retroreflective Sign Materials at Passive Railroad Crossings (VA Transportation Research Council, 1995) – This report investigated the best configuration of retroreflective material on Railroad Crossing signs at railroad-highway grade crossings at night.