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Chapter 672-16 CRITERIA FOR ELIMINATION OF HIGHWAY-RAIL GRADE CROSSINGS

Rule 672-16-.01 Definitions

(a) "AASHTO": The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
(b) "Average Daily Traffic" (ADT): The volume of traffic typical in a 24 hour period.
(c) "Clearing Sight Distance": The distance required for a vehicle to safely pass over and clear a crossing when departing from a stopped position as shown in the current edition of the AASHTO Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets.
(d) "Department": The Department of Transportation of the State of Georgia; sometimes abbreviated as GDOT.
(e) "Engineer": The Chief Engineer of GDOT, acting directly or through a duly authorized representatives acting within the scope of the particular duties and responsibilities assigned to them.
(f) "Highway-rail grade crossing": The area where a highway and a railroad's right-of-way cross at the same level, within which are included the railroad tracks, highway and the associated traffic control devices.
(g) "Land-locked property": Property by which all ingress, egress and/or access has been eliminated, removed or cut-off.
(h) "O.C.G.A": The Official Code of Georgia Annotated.
(i) "Passive highway-rail grade crossing": A crossing that has standard signs and/or pavement markings that provide warning that there is a highway-rail grade crossing.
(j) "Signalized highway-rail grade crossing": A crossing that has train activated warning devices, typically in the form of bells, lights and gates.
(k) "Railroad": All corporations, companies, or individuals owning or operating any railroad in this state. This title shall apply to all persons, firms, and companies, and to all associations of persons, whether incorporated or otherwise, that engage in business as common carriers upon any of the lines of railroad in this state, as well as to railroad corporations and railroad companies as defined in O.C.G.A.
(l) "Railroad main line": All portions of the railway line not used solely as yards, spurs, and side tracks.
(m) "Skew Angle": The interior angle measured between a line that extends the roadway centerline perpendicular from the stop bar to the nearest rail.
(n) "Train": One or more locomotives coupled with or without rail cars, that operates on rails or tracks and to which all other traffic must yield the right-of-way at highway-rail grade crossings.
(o) "Vehicle": Every device in, upon or by which, any person or property can be transported or drawn upon any highway, road or street except trains and light rail transit operating in exclusive alignments. Light rail transit operating in a mixed-use or shared alignment to which other traffic is not required to yield the right-of-way by law, is a vehicle.

Rule 672-16-.02 General

The rules to establish the criteria for closure of highway-rail grade crossings are promulgated in accordance with O.C.G.A. Section 32-6-193.1 for use by both the Department and local governing authorities. The intent is to enhance public safety for both vehicular and train traffic at highway-rail grade crossings. Application of the criteria in section 672-16-.04 and consideration of factors listed in O.C.G.A. Section 32-6-193.1 along with comments from a public hearing shall be weighed to determine if a public crossing should remain open or if the crossing should be eliminated.

Rule 672-16-.03 Procedural Steps

Any railroad may file a petition requesting an order to eliminate a highway-rail grade crossing on any public road. The petition shall include a location map showing the crossing, the corresponding railroad crossing inventory number, and the name of the city and/or county in which the crossing is located along with the information required under O.C.G.A. Section 32-6-193.1. Railroads shall report the same information that they normally report to U.S. D.O.T. and the Federal Railroad Administration whenever possible.

Both the governing authority and the railroad shall have the right to challenge the validity of data submitted by the other party. Both parties shall make good faith efforts to reach agreement regarding the data used to reach a determination of safety. Any disagreements that are not mutually resolved shall be settled during the appeal process.

(a) Petition requesting an order to eliminate a highway-rail grade crossing.
1. State Routes. The railroad shall submit the petition regarding a state highway to the GDOT, Railroad Crossing Program Manager, 935 E. Confederate Avenue, Building 24, Atlanta, Georgia 30316 by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery.
2. Local Roads and Streets. The railroad shall submit the petition regarding a city street or county road to the applicable local governing authority.
(b) Public Hearing.
1. The appropriate state or local governing authority in receipt of a completed petition to eliminate a railroad crossing shall conduct a public hearing on the issue prior to deciding whether to grant or deny the petition to eliminate the railroad crossing. The purpose of the public hearing shall be to inform the public of the proposed action, to gather supporting data regarding hardship cases and to validate data being gathered for use in making an overall determination regarding elimination. The public hearing shall be held within 60 days after receiving the petition. The applicable governing authority shall render a decision on the petition within 90 days of receipt.
2. The governing authority shall advertise the public hearing by posting a "Notice of Public Hearing" signage at the railroad crossing under review. Signage shall be placed on each approach leading up to the crossing and shall be at least 24" x 36" in size. The sign shall provide information regarding the date, time and location of the public hearing. A minimum of two additional signs shall be placed at the location of the public hearing with one sign inside the building and one sign outside the building.
3. The governing authority conducting the public hearing shall provide a written record of all oral comments and responses. Additionally the governing authority conducting the public hearing shall provide public comment forms to record and document all written comments. Written comments shall be accepted for five (5) calendar days following the said public hearing and the appropriate address for submitting such comments shall be printed on the public comment form.
4. The governing authority conducting the public hearing shall be responsible for retaining a written record of all public comments (written and oral), any responses provided, along with any displays, maps and/or other relative documents used in conducting the public hearing. The governing authority shall retain these items for at least one (1) year following the public hearing.

Rule 672-16-.04 Determination of Safety

The Department in respect to state highways, the county governing authority in respect to county roads or the municipality governing authority in respect to city streets shall determine if the highway-rail grade crossing shall remain open or should be eliminated. This determination shall be made upon consideration of all factors listed in O.C.G.A. Section 32-6-193.1 and in accordance with the "Georgia Department of Transportation's Guide for Evaluating Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety". A sum total of adjustment factors greater than or equal to a positive five (+5) shall be justification to eliminate a crossing.

(a) Records. The governing authority conducting the investigation shall retain the completed "Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Evaluation" form along with all calculations and supporting documentation used in completing the assessment for a minimum of one (1) year following the investigation.

Rule 672-16-.05 Appeal Process

(a) Any railroad aggrieved by an order of a local governing authority in accordance with a crossing on a local road may request a review by the GDOT in accordance with O.C.G.A. 32-6-193.1(c)(3).
1. The railroad shall submit an appeal to the GDOT, Railroad Crossing Program Manager, 935 E. Confederate Avenue, Building 24, Atlanta, Georgia 30316 by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery within thirty (30) days from the date of the Order issued by the local governing authority.
2. Along with the letter of appeal, the railroad shall include a copy of all correspondence with the local governing authority, a copy of the Order issued by the local governing authority and filing fee in the form of a check in the amount of $500.00, made payable to the Georgia Department of Transportation. The filing fee shall be applied towards the investigation of the appeal in accordance with O.C.G.A. 32-6-193.1, sub-section (c)(3)(D).
3. At the request of the GDOT, the local governing authority who issued the original order shall provide copies of those documents outlined in section 672-16-.03, sub-section (b) of this document along with those documents outlined in section 672-16-.04 of this document.
4. The GDOT shall have sixty (60) days to review the appeal and make a determination as to whether or not the original order of the local governing authority shall be upheld or overturned.
(b) Any railroad aggrieved by an order of the GDOT in accordance with a crossing on a state route may request a review in accordance with O.C.G.A. 32-6-193.1(c)(3).
1. The railroad shall submit an appeal to the GDOT, Railroad Crossing Program Manager, 935 E. Confederate Avenue, Building 24, Atlanta, Georgia 30316 by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery within thirty (30) days from the date of the Order issued by the GDOT. Along with the letter of appeal, the railroad shall include a copy of all correspondence with the GDOT, a copy of the Order issued by the GDOT and filing fee in the form of a check in the amount of $500.00, made payable to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
2. The GDOT shall forward such appeals directly to the Office of State Administrative Hearings for their review and judgment.