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Safety of Private Highway-Rail Grade Crossings; Notice of Safety Inquiry

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of Transportation (DOT).


Notice of safety inquiry.


On July 27, 2006, FRA published a notice announcing its intent to conduct a series of open meetings throughout the United States, in cooperation with appropriate State agencies, to consider issues related to the safety of private highway-rail grade crossings. To date, FRA has conducted four meetings and on January 5, 2007, FRA published a notice announcing the scheduling of an additional meeting to be held February 15, 2007, in Syracuse, New York. Due to inclement weather, it was necessary to reschedule the February 15 meeting for April 26, 2007.

At the meeting, FRA intends to solicit oral statements from private crossing owners, railroads and other interested parties on issues related to the safety of private highway-rail grade crossings, Start Printed Page 13344which will include, but not be limited to, current practices concerning responsibility for safety at private grade crossings, the adequacy of warning devices at private crossings, and the relative merits of a more uniform approach to improving safety at private crossings. FRA has also opened a public docket on these issues so that interested parties may submit written comments for public review and consideration.


The fifth public meeting will be held in Syracuse, New York on April 26, 2007, at the Renaissance Syracuse Hotel, 701 East Genesee Street, Syracuse, New York 13210, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Persons wishing to participate are requested to provide their names, organizational affiliation and contact information to Michelle Silva, FRA Docket Clerk, 1120 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20590 (telephone: 202-493-6030). Persons needing sign language interpretation or other reasonable accommodation for disability are also encouraged to contact Ms. Silva at the above-referenced telephone number.

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Ron Ries, FRA Office of Safety, 1120 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20590 (telephone: 202-493-6299); Miriam Kloeppel, FRA Office of Safety, 1120 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20590 (telephone: 202-493-6299); or Kathryn Shelton, FRA Office of Chief Counsel, 1120 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20590 (telephone: 202-493-6038).

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For additional information, please see the initial notice published July 27, 2006 in the Federal Register (71 FR 42713) and available at​7/​257/​2422/​01jan20061800/​​2006/​pdf/​06-6501.pdf.

Request for Comments

While FRA solicits discussion and comments on all areas of safety at private highway-rail grade crossings, we particularly encourage comments on the following topics:

  • At-grade highway-rail crossings present inherent risks to users, including the railroad and its employees and other persons in the vicinity, should a train derail into an occupied area or release hazardous materials. When passenger trains are involved, the risks are heightened. From the standpoint of public policy, how do we determine whether the creation or continuation of a private crossing is justified?
  • Is the current assignment of responsibility for safety at private crossings effective? To what extent do risk management practices associated with insurance arrangements result in “regulation” of safety at private crossings?
  • How should improvement and/or maintenance costs associated with private crossings be allocated?
  • Is there a need for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to handle disputes that may arise between private crossing owners and the railroads?
  • Should the State or Federal government assume greater responsibility for safety at private crossings?
  • Should there be nationwide standards for warning devices at private crossings or for intersection designs of new private grade crossings?
  • How do we determine when a private crossing has a “public purpose” and is subject to public use?
  • Should some crossings be categorized as “commercial crossings” rather than as “private crossings?”
  • Are there innovative traffic control treatments that could improve safety at private crossings on major rail corridors, including those on which passenger service is provided?
  • Should the Department of Transportation request the enactment of legislation to address private crossings? If so, what should it include?
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Issued in Washington, DC, on March 15, 2007.

Jo Strang,

Associate Administrator for Safety.

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[FR Doc. E7-5143 Filed 3-20-07; 8:45 am]