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Rails-Next-to-Trails: A Methodology for Selecting Appropriate Safety Treatments at Complex Multimodal Intersections

Publication: Transportation Research Record
Volume: 2672 (10)
Pages: 27-Dec
Publication Date: 2018
There are more than 212,000 at-grade railroad crossings in the United States. Several feature paths running adjacent to the railroad tracks, and crossing a highway; they serve urban areas, recreational activities, light rail station access, and a variety of other purposes. Some of these crossings see a disproportionate number of violations and conflicts between rail, vehicles, and pedestrians and bikes. This research focuses on developing a methodology for appropriately addressing the question of treatments in these complex, multimodal intersections. The methodology is designed to be able to balance a predetermined, prescriptive approach with the professional judgment of the agency carrying out the investigation. Using knowledge and data from the literature, field studies, and video observations, a framework for selecting treatments based on primary issues at a given location is developed. Using such a framework allows the agency to streamline their crossing improvement efforts; to easily communicate and inform the public of the decisions made and their reasons for doing so; to secure stakeholder buy-in prior to starting a project or investigation; to make sure that approach and selected treatments are more standardized; and to ensure transparency in the organization to make at-grade crossings safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, without negatively impacting trains or vehicles.