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Vehicle-train crashes that occur at highway-rail crossings result in injuries, fatalities, and damage to equipment. In order to reduce the number of vehicle-train crashes, Federal Railroad Administration requires states which have challenges with crossing safety, including Louisiana, to develop a State Action Plan to improve grade crossing safety. Consequently, identification of specific solutions for improving safety at crossings was included in the 2015 Louisiana Transportation Plan as one of its objectives. This study seeks to identify and evaluate current and new incentive programs that encourage closure of at-grade railroad crossings to reduce the number of potential vehicle-train collision points, and hence improve safety. To accomplish this, a survey was designed and was distributed to personnel of state and railroad agencies. Survey responses from the DOTs revealed that currently, 16 states had no incentive programs for consolidation or closure of highway-rail crossings. Analysis of the survey data revealed that states without any incentive program had the least proportion of highway-rail crossing closures. The study revealed that cash incentives, while popular are not effective because although the Federal Government contributes to a state’s effort in offering cash incentives for closure of public grade crossings, the amount is not substantial enough to be considered a significant incentive by most local governments. Also, track relocation, while effective is mostly impractical due to the high costs involved. A literature review revealed that having a mathematical model to guide on the selection of crossings for consolidation or closure provides sound scientific basis and are usually welcomed by the community. The research team identified three potential new incentives that could work well for Louisiana namely crime rate reduction incentives, greenness improvement programs, and the development of a grade crossing consolidation model that considers safety, among a plethora of other factors, to be used to prioritize crossings to be closed. However, additional work is required to validate these programs for statewide deployment.


Tran-SET Project No. 17PPLSU13