The National Academies

NCHRP 17-122 [RFP]

Strategies and Technologies for Warning, Detection, and Prevention of Trespassing in the Vicinity of Highway-Rail Grade Crossings: State of the Practice and Research Needs

Posted Date: 8/31/2023

  Project Data
Funds: $125,000
Contract Time: 12 months
(includes 2 months for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 2/1/2024 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Amir N. Hanna
   Phone: 202/334-1432
   Email: ahanna@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 10/18/2023
Fiscal Year: 2023


Highway-rail grade crossings have always presented a significant safety challenge for highway agencies and railroads across the United States and historically have been the source of most railroad-related deaths. Although implementation of a dedicated federal funding program in the early 1970s has resulted in substantial reductions in highway-rail grade crossing fatalities, these crossings still represent the second highest source of railroad-related fatalities behind trespassing. Rail trespassing, including suicides, represents approximately 70% of all railroad-related deaths, much of which occur within 1,000 feet of a highway-rail grade crossing. These accidents are associated with a substantial societal cost in fatalities and injuries, delays in train travel time, and significant delays to motorists and other roadway users.

Enhancement of law enforcement, education, community, and roadway planning, and the application of warning systems to railroad and highway rights-of-way to detect and warn trespassers would help reduce and possibly prevent trespassing. There is a need to document current practices and technologies, and identify research needed to enhance these practices and technologies. This information will provide a basis for future research that will help identify or develop practices and technologies that will prevent trespassing and eliminate related injuries, fatalities, and service disruption. 


The objectives of this project are to (1) document current practices and technologies relevant to the warning, detection, and prevention of trespassing in the vicinity of highway-rail grade crossings and (2) identify the research needed to enhance these practices and technologies. This information will provide basis for future research to identify or develop practices and technologies that will prevent trespassing and eliminate related injuries, fatalities, and service disruption. 

Accomplishment of the project objectives will require at least the following tasks.


Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objectives.

Task 1. Collect and review domestic and foreign literature, research findings, and information pertaining to the practices and technologies for warning, detection, and prevention of trespassing in the vicinity of highway-rail grade crossings. The review should include practices and technologies used in other applications and can be used to address trespassing issues (e.g., radar, light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)). This information may be obtained from published and unpublished reports, and contacts with public and private organizations (e.g., survey of state departments of transportation, railroads, and other relevant organizations).

Task 2. Based on the review performed in Task 1, identify, describe, evaluate, and rank available and potential practices and technologies for warning, detecting, and preventing trespassing in the vicinity of highway-rail grade crossings and recommend those meriting consideration.

Note: Proposals shall include the research team’s current thinking regarding the factors that will be considered and the criteria proposed for evaluating and ranking the practices and technologies and recommending those meriting consideration.

Task 3. For each of the practices and technologies recommended in Task 2, identify the weaknesses that require further research and recommend research projects to address these weaknesses. For each project, provide a brief description that includes concise statements of the project objective and the proposed work.

Note: An in-person review meeting that includes a presentation by the research team to the NCHRP project panel should be scheduled upon completion of Task 3.

Task 4. Prepare a final deliverable that documents the entire research effort.

Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, the remaining 2 months shall be for NCHRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the final deliverable.


A. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs were revised in May 2023. Please take note of the new and revised text which is highlighted in yellow.

B. Proposals must be submitted as a single PDF file with a maximum file size of 10 MB. The PDF must be formatted for standard 8 ½” X 11” paper, and the entire proposal must not exceed 60 pages (according to the page count displayed in the PDF). Proposals that do not meet these requirements will be rejected. For other requirements, refer to chapter V of the instructions.

C. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs have been modified to include a revised policy and instructions for disclosing Investigator Conflict of Interest. For more information, refer to chapter IV of the instructions. A detailed definition and examples can be found in the CRP Conflict of Interest Policy for Contractors. The proposer recommended by the project panel will be required to submit an Investigator Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Form as a prerequisite for contract negotiations.

D. Proposals will be rejected if any of the proposed research team members work for organizations represented on the project panel. The panel roster for this project can be found at https://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP_17-122_Panel_Roster.pdf. Proposers may not contact panel members directly; this roster is provided solely for the purpose of avoiding potential conflicts of interest. 

E. Proprietary Products - If any proprietary products are to be used or tested in the project, please refer to Item 6 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals.

F. Proposals are evaluated by the NCHRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively knowledgeable in the problem area. The project panel will recommend their first choice proposal considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities. A recommendation by the project panel is not a guarantee of a contract. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS - the contracting authority for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) will conduct an internal due diligence review and risk assessment of the panel’s recommended proposal before contract negotiations continue.

Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 11 of the proposal.

G. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academy of Sciences. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academy of Sciences. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.

H. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals. Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.

I. The required technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” should (a) provide recommendations on how to best put the research findings/products into practice; (b) identify possible institutions that might take leadership in applying the research findings/products; (c) identify issues affecting potential implementation of the findings/products and recommend possible actions to address these issues; and (d) recommend methods of identifying and measuring the impacts associated with implementation of the findings/products. Implementation of these recommendations is not part of the research project and, if warranted, details of these actions will be developed and implemented in future efforts.

The research team will be expected to provide input to an implementation team consisting of panel members, AASHTO committee members, the NCHRP Implementation Coordinator, and others in order to meet the goals of NCHRP Active Implementation: Moving Research into Practice, available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP_ActiveImplementation.pdf

J. If the team proposes a Principal Investigator who is not an employee of the Prime Contractor, or if the Prime Contractor is proposed to conduct less than 50% of the total effort (by time or budget), then section five of the proposal should include: (1) a justification of why this approach is appropriate, and (2) a description of how the Prime Contractor will ensure adequate communication and coordination with their Subcontractors throughout the project.

K. All budget information should be suitable for printing on 8½″ x 11″ paper. If a budget page cannot fit on a single 8½″ x 11″ page, it should be split over multiple pages. Proposers must use the Excel templates provided in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs.




Proposals must be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/jx2KtHKayIRiMiwQUVkn 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 10/18/2023.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected.

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered statement in order for TRB to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a fillable PDF version of the Liability Statement. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at https://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals". Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section IV for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.

5. Potential proposers should understand that follow-on activities for this project may be carried out through either a contract amendment modifying the scope of work with additional time and funds, or through a new contract (via sole source, full, or restrictive competition).

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