Title

COOPERATIVE EFFORT TO PROMOTE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND MAINTAIN LOW-VOLUME ROAD SAFETY AND OPERATIONS: INTERMODAL CASE STUDY

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1999

Subject Area

planning - safety/accidents, ridership - commuting, mode

Keywords

Transportation facility operations, Teamwork, Road safety, Residents, Railways, Railroads, Railroad grade crossings, Maryland, Low volume roads, Local government, Level crossings, Highway safety, Highway railroad grade crossings, Highway rail intersections, Grade crossings, Economic development, Cooperation, Collaboration, Coal industry, Case studies, Appalachia

Abstract

The principal function of low-volume roads is to provide access to land uses adjacent to the road. The roads are important to industry for hauling raw materials and to local residents. Low-volume roads often intersect railroads, creating a grade crossing. This creates the potential for conflicts between modes and introduces delays for motorists when long trains occupy a crossing. These conflicts can reach unacceptable levels. Presented is a case study of one such situation. The George's Creek area in Maryland is a significant producer of bituminous coal. A local coal operator wanted to ship coal via train to the port of Baltimore. Clearly, this would be a boost to the local economy. A rail line already served the area; however, there were no coal-loading facilities. The quantity of coal produced did not justify construction of such facilities. Thus it was decided to load the train by using mobile equipment. This required the train to block a low-volume road grade crossing for significant periods on a quarterly basis. Residents were concerned about access to their homes, emergency vehicle access, and grade crossing safety. Through communication, coordination, and cooperation among the mine operator, the railroad, and the local jurisdiction, a plan was developed wherein the mine was able to ship its coal by rail and local residents had safe access to their homes and emergency vehicle service. Implementation of the solution is detailed. Critical issues are identified and their resolution discussed. Lessons learned and suggestions for other locations facing similar problems are included.