49 CFR Appendix F to Part 222, Diagnostic Team Considerations
For purposes of this part, a diagnostic team is a group of knowledgeable representatives of parties of interest in a highway-rail grade crossing, organized by the public authority responsible for that crossing who, using crossing safety management principles, evaluate conditions at a grade crossing to make determinations or recommendations for the public authority concerning the safety needs at that crossing. Crossings proposed for inclusion in a quiet zone should be reviewed in the field by a diagnostic team composed of railroad personnel, public safety or law enforcement, engineering personnel from the State agency responsible for grade crossing safety, and other concerned parties.
This diagnostic team, using crossing safety management principles, should evaluate conditions at a grade crossing to make determinations and recommendations concerning safety needs at that crossing. The diagnostic team can evaluate a crossing from many perspectives and can make recommendations as to what safety measures authorized by this part might be utilized to compensate for the silencing of the train horns within the proposed quiet zone.
The diagnostic team should obtain and review the following information about each crossing within the proposed quiet zone:
1. Current highway traffic volumes and percent of trucks;
2. Posted speed limits on all highway approaches;
3. Maximum allowable train speeds, both passenger and freight;
4. Accident history for each crossing under consideration;
5. School bus or transit bus use at the crossing; and
6. Presence of U.S. DOT grade crossing inventory numbers clearly posted at each of the crossings in question.
The diagnostic team should obtain all inventory information for each crossing and should check, while in the field, to see that inventory information is up-to-date and accurate. Outdated inventory information should be updated as part of the quiet zone development process.
When in the field, the diagnostic team should take note of the physical characteristics of each crossing, including the following items:
1. Can any of the crossings within the proposed quiet zone be closed or consolidated with another adjacent crossing? Crossing elimination should always be the preferred alternative and it should be explored for crossings within the proposed quiet zone.
2. What is the number of lanes on each highway approach? Note the pavement condition on each approach, as well as the condition of the crossing itself.
3. Is the grade crossing surface smooth, well graded and free draining?
4. Does the alignment of the railroad tracks at the crossing create any problems for road users on the crossing? Are the tracks in superelevation (are they banked on a curve?) and does this create a conflict with the vertical alignment of the crossing roadway?
5. Note the distance to the nearest intersection or traffic signal on each approach (if within 500 feet or so of the crossing or if the signal or intersection is determined to have a potential impact on highway traffic at the crossing because of queuing or other special problems).
6. If a roadway that runs parallel to the railroad tracks is within 100 feet of the railroad tracks when it crosses an intersecting road that also crosses the tracks, the appropriate advance warning signs should be posted as shown in the MUTCD.
7. Is the posted highway speed (on each approach to the crossing) appropriate for the alignment of the roadway and the configuration of the crossing?
8. Does the vertical alignment of the crossing create the potential for a “hump crossing” where long, low-clearance vehicles might get stuck on the crossing?
9. What are the grade crossing warning devices in place at each crossing? Flashing lights and gates are required for each public crossing in a New Quiet Zone. Are all required warning devices, signals, pavement markings and advance signing in place, visible and in good condition for both day and night time visibility?
10. What kind of train detection is in place at each crossing? Are these systems old or outmoded; are they in need of replacement, upgrading, or refurbishment?
11. Are there sidings or other tracks adjacent to the crossing that are often used to store railroad cars, locomotives, or other equipment that could obscure the vision of road users as they approach the crossings in the quiet zone? Clear visibility may help to reduce automatic warning device violations.
12. Are motorists currently violating the warning devices at any of the crossings at an excessive rate?
13. Do collision statistics for the corridor indicate any potential problems at any of the crossings?
14. If school buses or transit buses use crossings within the proposed quiet zone corridor, can they be rerouted to use a single crossing within or outside of the quiet zone?
In addition to the items discussed above, a diagnostic team should note the following issues when examining any private crossings within a proposed quiet zone:
1. How often is the private crossing used?
2. What kind of signing or pavement markings are in place at the private crossing?
3. What types of vehicles use the private crossing?
4. What is the volume, speed and type of train traffic over the crossing?
5. Do passenger trains use the crossing?
6. Do approaching trains sound the horn at the private crossing?
State or local law requires it?
Railroad safety rule requires it?
7. Are there any nearby crossings where train horns sound that might also provide some warning if train horns were not sounded at the private crossing?
8. What are the approach (corner) sight distances?
9. What is the clearing sight distance for all approaches?
10. What are the private roadway approach grades?
11. What are the private roadway pavement surfaces?
In addition to the items discussed in the section titled, “All crossings within a proposed quiet zone”, a diagnostic team should note the following issues when examining any pedestrian crossings within a proposed quiet zone:
1. How often is the pedestrian crossing used?
2. What kind of signing or pavement markings are in place at the pedestrian crossing?
3. What is the volume, speed, and type of train traffic over the crossing?
4. Do approaching trains sound the horn at the pedestrian crossing?
State or local law requires it?
Railroad safety rule requires it?
5. Are there any crossings where train horns sound that might also provide some warning if train horns were not sounded at the pedestrian crossing?
6. What are the approach sight distances?
7. What is the clearing sight distance for all approaches?