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1000 - Railroad Coordination Policy & Procedures Manual


  1. Railroad Coordination refers to the process to be used during the Project Development Process (PDP) to interface and engage the railroads on various projects within the State.
  2. The primary concern of the railroads is continued safe operations of railroad traffic during construction and safe completion of the construction work on or near railroad property and operating tracks. Construction activity on railroad right-of-way or within 50 feet of active tracks must be coordinated with the affected railroad. This includes the movement of off- highway equipment and oversized loads using private or public grade crossings.
  3. The processes and procedures outlined herein must be utilized when proposed work falls within the railroad Right-of-Way, operating envelope and/or property limits, regardless of whether going over, above or alongside a railroad line.
  4. Some examples when railroad coordination is needed include, but are not limited to: construction of new bridges and reconstruction of existing bridges (either rail over highway or highway over rail); grade separation structures (either rail over highway or highway over rail); drainage or guardrail work, utility work, repaving work and traffic signal preemption work.
  5. Railroad coordination is also required for work near railroad right-of-way that could affect the support of railroad track and structures, and also if the work involves construction activities that could foul or impact railroad operations including cranes working within the boom length plus 25 of the railroad clearance envelope.
  6. The procedures outlined herein are for all common-carrier Class I railroads (i.e. Norfolk Southern (NS), CSX Transportation (CSX) and Canadian National (CN)), as well as for all other regional, shortline and industrial railroad operations state-wide.
  7. Agreements and Special Clauses are required for any work over, under or alongside an active, operating railroad corridor. Special Clauses provide the insurance requirements, train traffic, and other information applicable to the project, and are included with all Agreements. The Special Clauses are also included as part of the construction Bid Proposal.
  8. Railroad Proposal Notes #150-#159 are no longer permitted to be used on projects. Use of Proposal Notes in lieu of Special Clauses is not permitted.

Project Development

  1. Districts will be responsible for defining the scope and technical requirements of the project as it relates to railroad interface, ensuring that design standards and details as mandated by the railroad are included on documents.
  2. Early initiation of preliminary engineering discussions and review of the project objectives with the railroad may identify additional alternatives and issues that should be considered while defining the project scope.
  3. Technical information, including required clearances and other technical standards, are available at the following websites.
  • NS: www.nscorp.com → Doing Business; (in the drop-down menus) → Publications → Design of Grade Separation Structures
  • CSX: www.csxt.com → General ; then look under ‘Resources’ on that page and click on ‘Public Project Information’

4. Preliminary Engineering (for CSX only)

  • 4.1 - Upon definition of Scope, and/or a recognition of the need for railroad involvement during design, the District will notify the Central Office (CO) State Rail Coordinator, noting the Project Identification Number (PID), project name and location; and if known, the railroad, the American Association of Railroads Department of Transportation (AARDOT) crossing number, and milepost number with a request to initiate a Preliminary Engineering (PE) Agreement with the affected railroad (as of this writing, applicable only to CSX Transportation) See Exhibit A.
  • 4.2 - The State Rail Coordinator will develop the PE Agreement, acquire signatures from the Director, and forward them to the railroad for execution, with a copy forwarded to the District Rail Coordinator.
  • 4.3 - Upon receipt of an executed PE Agreement, one copy will be forwarded to the District who will be responsible for encumbering and entering funds into ELLIS to cover the cost indicated for the railroad’s PE work as indicated under Section 2.2 of the PE Agreement.

4. Preliminary Engineering (for all railroads except CSX)

It is the responsibility of the District’s Railroad Coordinator to notify the applicable responsible railroad personnel to provide necessary interface and review of pending projects that will require railroad review and approval of plans. Notification should occur with submission to the railroad of Stage 1 plans, or earlier as Scope for the project is developed. All correspondence should be copied to the State Rail Coordinator.

  • 4.3 - Stage 1 is a critical milestone for railroad review, and should provide the scope and details pertinent to the railroad, including vertical and horizontal clearances, drainage, and any other above or below grade structures that are within the railroad’s Right-of-Way. Adequate time should be built into a project’s schedule to allow for the railroad’s review of Stage 1 plans (normally 2-3 months).

Several entities within the railroad normally need to review proposed construction plans, including Operations, Signal, Communications, Industrial Development, Strategic Planning, Maintenance-of-Way, and others as deemed necessary by the railroad before the railroad can respond back with comments. Projects should not be advanced substantially into Stage 2 without review comments having been received by the railroad.

  • 4.4 - Upon receipt of review comments from the railroad of Stage 1 plans, the District will ensure that any technical comments and/or notes mandated by the railroad are incorporated into plan documents. Each railroad has different requirements for plan/general notes that are normally required to be shown on the drawings, and verification of note requirements by each railroad is required, as each railroad’s requirements will be different (as an example, do not utilize CSX general/plan notes if work is on NS property).
  • 4.5 - Railroad Proposal notes (as utilized in the past) are not to be used.

5. Final Design (Stage 2 - sale date)

  • 5.1 - After receipt of Stage 1 comments, plan submissions for Stage 3 (& Stage 2 if mandated by the railroad) are to be made to the railroad that will allow them to ensure their comments from the Stage 1 submittal have been included. A request to the railroad for development and submission of any applicable RR Force Account work should also be made as part of the transmittal to the railroad.
  • 5.2 - After review/acceptance and/or comments are received back by the railroad of Stage 1 plans, a request for submission of a Force Account estimate should be made by the District, noting the number of anticipated days of construction.
  • 5.3 - After receipt of acceptance by the railroad of Stage 2/3 plans, and during bidding or before tracings are submitted to Central Office for bidding, four (4) sets (or other as required by the railroad) of final construction plans are to be submitted to the railroad by the District Railroad Coordinator, noting in the cover letter to the railroad the anticipated sale date of the project.

6. Future track expansion request for highway projects

  • 6.1 - Many rail corridors within the State are high-capacity, mainline corridors that are major routes to out-of-state points. With the railroads continuing to see added growth on many of these existing corridors, several routes are being considered for construction of future additional tracks within existing railroad Right-of-Ways (ROW). Additional track capacity may be required in the future for main line operations, major customers and/or terminals.
  • 6.2 - When new highway structures are scheduled, FHWA’s position has been that the State should provide reasonable accommodation for future track expansion whenever possible/practical to do so, when requested by the affected railroad.
  • 6.3 - As a general guideline for all projects spanning over an active rail line, and when economically and structurally feasible, efforts should be made in designing clear spans from ROW line to ROW line.
  • 6.4 - Additional information about future corridor requirements will be provided during the preliminary engineering phase
  • 6.5 - If new piers/abutments are necessary within the ROW line, efforts should be made to locate these new structures a minimum of 26 feet from the centerline of existing or future track (structures located at 25’ or closer require construction of a structural crashwall)
  • 6.6 - This policy for future track accommodation applies only to new bridge construction and replacement when building new piers/abutments, and is not applicable to reconstruction/rehabilitation of existing structures.

7. Underground Utilities

  • 7.1 - Railroad Agreements do not cover installation or railroad costs required for installation of new underground utilities. Both Norfolk Southern and CSX requires the execution of separate license agreements for each affected railroad.
  • 7.2 - To review requirements for each railroad, and to acquire the necessary applications and instructions, go to the following web sites:
    • NS: www.nscorp.com → Doing Business; (in the drop-down menus) → click on ‘Business Units’, then ‘Real Estate’. On the left side of the page under Real Estate Services’, click on ‘Wireline and Pipeline License’. As of this writing, the link refers you to DMJM+Harris, who are handling pipeline applications on behalf of NS.
    • CSX: www.csxt.com → click on the ‘General’ ; then click on ‘CSX Property/Real Estate’, then ‘Leases and Licenses’, then under ‘Application Packages’, click on ‘Pipeline’.
  • 7.3 - The District Utility Coordinator is responsible for completion of the license application.

Railroad Agreements

  1. All Railroad Agreements (either Standard or Letter Agreements) utilize a standard template and Special Clauses customized for that railroad, and are issued by the State Rail Coordinator.
  2. For those projects involving special situations and/or circumstances that might affect and/or require railroad flagging, the State Rail Coordinator will determine the use of either a Standard or Letter Agreement customized for the particular project condition, after conferring with the affected railroad.
  3. a.) Upon completion of Stage 1 plans, forward one set of Stage 1 plans to the railroad, with a copy to the State Rail Coordinator. The State Rail Coordinator will issue all Standard and Letter Agreements, and will be responsible for tracking Agreements through to execution.

b)    Each Agreement (for both the Standard and Letter Agreements) are provided with Special Clauses that outline specific requirements that bidders are responsible for, including insurance and contact information. Special Clauses must be included as part of the bid documents for construction.

4. Standard Railroad Agreements

See Exhibit B for an example of a Standard Railroad Agreement.

  • 4.1 - Standard Railroad Agreements are utilized for most new and major projects, including Grade Separation Projects, and clearly will involve intrusion upon railroad ROW to execute the project.
  • 4.2 - Upon receipt of Stage 1 plans, the State Rail Coordinator will initiate the Standard Railroad Agreement / Special Clauses and forward to the railroad for signature, copying the District Railroad Coordinator.
  • 4.3 - Both NS and CSX have extensive inter-departmental reviews of Scope and/or Agreements that must occur before approval is made that will allow for a
  • signature to occur on an Agreement. Past practice has seen NS and CSX turn-around times for return of signed Agreements exceed 2-3 months due to the extensive reviews that are done by each railroad. Grade Separation projects which involve the railroad contributing funds towards the project have historically taken 4-5 months to execute.
  • 4.4 - For projects involving Third Party agreements (requiring signatures by cities/counties in addition to signatures by the railroad and ODOT), the State Rail Coordinator, upon receipt of signed Agreements/Special Clause’s from the railroad, will forward those Agreements to the District or the County (as determined to be the most expedient process between CO and the District) with a request for signature.
  • 4.5 - For all Agreements, the State Rail Coordinator will acquire the Director’s signature, assign an Agreement Number (for Standard Agreements only) and forward all copies to the railroad for execution. Upon their return by the railroad, copies of the executed Agreement/Special Clause’s are forwarded to the District, CO Estimating, and CO Real Estate Acquisition group by the State Rail Coordinator. One original is maintained in the State Rail Coordinator files at Central Office.
  • 4.6 - For third party agreements, upon return of the executed copies by the railroad, the State Rail Coordinator will forward the agreements to the appropriate District Railroad Coordinator for movement to the applicable County/City agency for signatures. Upon execution by the County/City, all copies are to be returned to the State Rail Coordinator, who will make appropriate distribution as outlined in section 4.5 above.

5. Letter Agreements

See Exhibit C for an example of a Standard Letter Agreement

  • 5.1 - Letter Agreements are utilized for most resurfacing projects, and minor bridge or repair projects that would have no apparent impact or major intrusion on railroad operations, and would not create a safety hazard to railroad personnel or impact railroad operations.
  • 5.2 - Upon receipt of plans, the State Rail Coordinator will initiate the Letter Agreement / Special Clauses, acquire signatures from the Director, and forward two (2) copies of the Letter Agreement to the railroad for signature, copying the District Railroad Coordinator.
  • 5.3 - Both Agreements are signed by the Railroad, with one copy returned to the State Rail Coordinator. Upon receipt of the signed Letter Agreement, the State Rail Coordinator will forward a copy to the District for their file, and another copy forwarded to Central Office Estimating. One original is maintained in the State Rail Coordinator files.
  • 5.4 - Letter Agreements are usually signed off by the railroad within 30 days (60-120 days for NS).

6. Special Clauses

See Exhibit D for an example of Special Clauses

  • 6.1 - Special Clauses outline additional contractor requirements complimentary to the Agreement for each railroad covering items such as required insurance requirements and coverages, contact information, and other procedural information specific for each railroad and/or project.
  • 6.2 - Special Clauses are included with every Standard and Letter railroad agreement, and are included in all construction bid packages, making them a required contractual element between ODOT and the contractor.

7. Agreements for Grade Separation Projects

  • 7.1 - Grade Separation projects that are being constructed to eliminate one or more at- grade vehicular crossings with a railroad are subject to the requirements of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 23 – Part 646 which stipulates financial requirements for railroads to contribute to the overall cost of the project.
  • 7.2 - Although 23 CFR stipulates a minimum of 5% total cost contribution from a railroad, the final cost contribution (which will never be less than 5%) is ultimately a negotiated cost, and includes other factors including the number of crossing being closed, vehicular traffic and trains per day over the crossing(s). The State Rail Coordinator is responsible for negotiating final cost contributions with the railroads, which is reflected in Section 15 of the applicable Agreement.
  • 7.3 - The routing and signature process is similar to that of the Standard Railroad Agreement as outlined under subparagraph 4 above.

Post Award Activities

  1. A Letter of Authorization (see Exhibit E) is to be forwarded to the railroad from the District Rail Coordinator, Project Manager, or other District-assigned individual, upon award of construction, or earlier if railroad Force Account work is needed to begin. One copy is to be provided to the State Railroad Coordinator. Four (4) copies of complete construction plans should be forwarded to the railroad along with the Letter of Authorization (or sooner if requested by the RR).
  2. The railroad will provide information of railroad project representatives, and who should be copied and included in Pre-Construction meetings, notes and follow-ups.
  3. The construction Project Manager, or other District individuals assigned to the project are responsible for monitoring railroad Force Account (FA) work, and approving invoices for FA work as received.  Specific notations should be noted in field logs/reports noting  daily attendance of flagmen (which for many projects is predominant item of a railroad’s Force Account work). Project Managers are also responsible for approving of FA invoices received.
  4. The Post-Award Activities outlined above provide a recommended procedure, but is contingent upon individual District protocol and/or personnel involvement for design and construction phases.


Download the attachment on this page for example exhibits.