Railroad Highway Projects

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Railroad Highway Projects

Safety deficiencies, evaluation of crossing/separation conditions and proposed highway construction and maintenance projects by the department, railroad companies, or private industry are the basis for most railroad-highway projects.

The Freight Services and Safety Division of the Bureau of Urban and Public Transportation is responsible for recommending safety improvements at rail/highway crossings. Their recommendations are issued as orders, which legally must be complied with by state and local road authorities and railroad companies. This group also administers the state and federally funded railroad crossing/separation improvement program on non-trunkline roads.

The Design Support Area provides engineering liaison between the department and the railroad industry to meet the needs of the department’s highway construction and maintenance programs.

Trunkline Railroad Coordination administers the state and federally funded railroad crossing/separation improvement program on the state trunkline system through the Governmental and Railroad Coordination.

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On-Site Inspections

On-site grade crossing inspections (studies), initiated by the Freight Services and Safety Division or Trunkline Railroad Coordination, are undertaken to evaluate crossing conditions for safety, to explain proposed highway improvement projects, and to make recommendations and determinations in those matters. These inspections (studies) often involve Region and TSC project development, field, and operations personnel to facilitate safety recommendations or activities related to proposed projects. Non-trunkline on-site inspections are performed by the local agency and Freight Services and Safety Division.

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Project Development

Trunkline Railroad Coordination or Freight Services and Safety will define responsibility, program funds, initiate any agreements necessary, and coordinate the development of plans specifications, and estimates covering railroad work, approach work traffic control, and other areas as may be required. They will also obtain estimates for railroad work, arrange for construction phase funding, and obtain federal approval for projects involving federal funds.

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Railroad Project Authorization

The Design Support Area will authorize any work to be done directly by the railroad in conjunction with trunkline projects. Such work normally includes grade crossing work, changes to railroad facilities and separation structures, and construction engineering inspection.

Uptran will issue an authorization to the railroad company for projects on the non-trunkline roads.

Note: In the following paragraphs, the term “authorizing division” will refer to either Design or Uptran depending on who issues the contract authorization.

By copy of the railroad authorization letter, the Region office or TSC will be requested to set up a preconstruction meeting as soon as possible to determine work schedules and coordinate railroad and roadway work. This will include a review of the plans, agreement on rail elevations, review of the method of maintaining traffic and of any changes that may affect the limits of track and roadway work. The Region or TSC will notify the authorizing division and the railroad company of the preconstruction meeting.

The authorizing division will furnish copies of contract authorizations, estimates, plans, and other material as required, to the Region or TSC and where appropriate, to Freight Services and Safety, Financial Services, Programming Statewide Transportation Planning Services, Construction and Technology Support Area and to county, city, or village officials.

The authorizing division will prepare and distribute Transportation Work Authorizations (TWA’s) for approach work and traffic control for projects that have no formal construction contract for these items. Billing, final inspection, and approval of TWA work will be handled by the Region or TSC.

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Railroad Project Construction

The Region or TSC will assign a project manager to each railroad-highway project. The railroad company will notify the project manager at least ten days prior to starting work. Coordination of the project work schedules between the railroad company and the project manager is essential.

Coordination for grade crossing projects should include:

  • Review and staking of horizontal alignment if track changes are planned.
  • Review and staking of signal locations and track and roadway elevations pursuant to plans and authorization. See Standard Plan R-122 Series.
  • Details of header construction.
  • Maintaining traffic - part width or detour.
  • Sequence of operations and scheduling of traffic control, track and crossing surface work, and roadway approach paving.

The extent of coordination on grade separation projects will depend on the size and scope of the project.

On local projects, the project manager will perform periodic inspection of the work to verify that the scope and limits of work performed, and the materials used, are in accordance with the railroad’s detailed estimate, the agreement, project plans, contract authorization, and authorized changes or extras. The consultant railroad specialist working in the Trunkline Railroad Coordination area will perform these activities in conjunction the MDOT Project Manager on trunkline projects. Project documentation should show manpower, equipment used, major materials, new or used track items, etc. Any work performed by the railroad in the vicinity of the project that is not included in the contract authorization should be noted and Governmental and Railroad Coordination advised. Changes in scope of railroad work or anticipated cost increases will normally be brought to the attention by the railroad company. During construction, the project manager should notify Governmental and Railroad Coordination of any railroad field changes determined to be necessary. Local Agency Programs will process a contract modification (Form 1100) covering the approved changes/extras. A copy of Form 1100 will be forwarded to the project manager.

The Region Engineer is required to submit a Construction Inspection/Acceptance and Certification Report, Form 1120, to Local Agency Programs upon completion and approval of the railroad project. Beginning and ending construction dates are required on the report and should also be included in the project records. The project manager should request that a railroad representative be present at the final acceptance field review or obtain written confirmation from the railroad that their work is complete and no further force account charges will be made beyond the acceptance date. The acceptance report for each railroad project should be submitted as soon as possible after the work is completed. If acceptance of related highway work will be delayed, the acceptance report for the railroad work should be submitted separately.

  1. Verification of Railroad Company Bills
    All progress and final billings on railroad work will be submitted to the authorizing division by the railroad company using a Railroad Request for Reimbursement, Form 802Q.
    Upon receipt and review of progress billings, the authorizing division will prepare a pay estimate. Payments will be made in accordance with terms of the covering agreement and with department policy and procedure. A copy of the pay estimate and railroad billing will be forwarded to the TSC Manager for information and for review by the project manager.
    If the project manager determines that the billing is in error or is questionable, the authorizing division should be notified of the specific concerns so that they may follow up with the railroad company. The bill should be retained in the project file.
  2. Final Billing on Railroad Projects
    The authorizing division will furnish the TSC a copy of the pay estimate and final billing for action by the project manager who will review the final bill and project records to determine if the charges reasonably compare to the work completed and entail costs for work that substantially conforms to the plans, specifications, and contract authorization. Local Agency Programs is to be advised of the project manager’s approval (subject to audit) or concerns and furnished with information or documents (i.e., correspondence and/or inspection reports) that may be useful in substantiating the billing and completing the audit process.
    On local agency projects where a crossing is installed, the project manager is to measure its final length and send this information along with project approval to Freight Services and Safety.

The authorizing division may perform a pre-audit analysis of quantities and cost and initiate or participate in a field inventory, if necessary, to verify project work items.

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Railroad Audit Process

  1. Trunkline / Railroad Projects
    An “audit package”, consisting of the railroad company’s billings, agreement, contract authorization, cost estimates, FHWA approvals, acceptance report, and copies of other correspondence or documents determined essential to the audit, will be prepared by Freight Services and Safety and transmitted to the Office of Commission Audits. The package may include information from both Local Agency Programs and the project manager concerning items in the billing or comments concerning the construction phase of the project which could have an affect on the project costs.
    After the Office of Commission Audits distributes their audit report, the authorizing division will submit a copy to the railroad company. If no adjustments are made, the submission will simply state when the company can expect final payment. If the report reflects adjustments and/or comments which could lead to further deductions, the railroad company will be notified of the findings and requested to concur with the adjustments in writing.
    If differences of opinion occur regarding audit results, the Design Support Area will perform liaison work between the railroad company, Region, the FHWA, and the Office of Commission Audit, in order to resolve the matter.
  2. Non-Trunkline Railroad Projects
    For non-trunkline projects, Freight Services and Safety will submit the final bill and copies of other correspondence or documents, determined essential to the audit, to the Financial Services Division. The Financial Services Division will request an audit from Commission Audit. Freight Services and Safety will receive the audit findings and resolve any disputed costs through Commission Audit.
  3. Final Financial Process for Railroad Projects
    After concurrence with the audit report is obtained, and if necessary, overrun approval by the State Administrative Board is obtained, the authorizing division will prepare the final payment estimate and the balancing Contract Modification, Form 1100. The Financial Services Division will then make final project payment and initiate final accounting between the FHWA and the department.

Copies of the final payment estimate, audit report, and balancing contract modification will be sent to the project manager so the project files may be closed out in a timely manner.

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