Public agencies involved with highway-railroad grade crossing safety must allocate available funding to projects which are considered the most in need for improvements. Mathematical models provide a ranking of hazard risk at crossings and support the project selection process. This paper reports the results of a research study sponsored by the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) examining hazard ranking models for grade crossing project selection. The goal of the research was to provide ORDC, ODOT, and other stakeholders with a better understanding of the grade crossing hazard ranking formulas and other methods used by States to evaluate grade crossing hazards and select locations for hazard elimination projects. A comprehensive literature review along with personal interviews of state DOT personnel from eight states yielded best practices for hazard ranking and project selection. The literature review found that more than three-quarters of states utilize some type of hazard ranking formula or other systematic method for project prioritization. The most commonly-used hazard ranking model in use is the U.S. DOT Accident Prediction Model; however, at least eleven states utilize state-specific hazard ranking models. Detailed evaluation of several different hazard ranking models determined that the existing hazard ranking model used in Ohio, the U.S. DOT Accident Prediction Model, should continue to be used. The research also recommends greater use of sight distance information at crossings and expanding the preliminary list of crossings to be considered in the annual program as enhancements to the existing project selection process used by the ORDC and ODOT.

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