The National Academies

TCRP A-32 [Completed]

Operation of Light Rail Transit through Ungated Crossings at Speeds over 35 MPH

  Project Data
Funds: $295,000
Research Agency: Science Applications International Corporation
Principal Investigator: Gary Golembiewski
Effective Date: 11/26/2008
Completion Date: 11/26/2011

Current practice as defined in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), Part 10, recommends use of gates and requires flashing lights at highway-light rail grade crossings with light rail vehicle (LRV) speeds greater than 35 mph.  Where light rail transit (LRT) operates in semi-exclusive rights-of-way, as defined in TCRP Report 17: Integration of Light Rail Transit into City Streets, there are segments where the parallel roadway traffic operates through the same intersections at higher speeds.  The ability of vehicles to travel at higher speeds on parallel roadways can put LRT at a disadvantage with respect to attracting ridership.  By enhancing the ability of LRT to operate through intersections at higher speeds, time of travel on transit becomes more competitive.  As a result, transit agencies can potentially improve ridership with more efficient use of existing infrastructure.

The objective of this research is to accomplish the following:

1.            Identify potential supplemental safety measures for use with traffic signals in lieu of highway-light rail grade crossing flashing lights and gates where LRVs could operate at speeds in excess of 35 mph in a semi-exclusive public right-of-way; 

2.            Test higher-speed LRV operation (above 35 mph) at selected locations using identified supplemental safety measures, with active participation of one or more sponsoring transit agencies; and

3.            Recommend revisions to MUTCD, Part 10, as necessary.

Status:  This project has been completed using a simulated flow model.  It has been published as a Web-Only Document No. 53.

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