Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
PlanningEnvironmentReal Estate

HEP Events Guidance Publications Awards Contacts

Rails-with-Trails: Lessons Learned

APPENDIX A: Definitions

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities (1999): Provides information and guidelines for the planning, design, and maintenance of bicycle facilities. The AASHTO Bike Guide provides information to help accommodate bicycle traffic in a way that is sensitive to bicyclists and other roadway users. It also provides specific information about the design of shared use paths, railroad grade crossings, and path roadway intersections.

Centerline: An imaginary line midpoint between the track rails that conforms to the geometry of that track. "Centerline" often is used in reference to the nearest track to an RWT when discussing such issues as setback and separation.

Class I Railroad: A railroad with annual gross operating revenue in excess of $250 million based on 1991 dollars.

Class II Railroad: Railroads with an annual gross operating revenue of between $250 million and $20 million.

Class III Railroad: Railroads with gross operating revenue of less than $20 million. These include short-line and light-density railroads.

Commuter Rail: Urban passenger train service for travel between a central city and adjacent suburbs, excluding rapid rail transit and light rail service.

Department of Transportation: Established by an Act of Congress in 1966, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) works to build a safe transportation system. The USDOT includes the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Surface Transportation Board.

Excursion Trains: Generally, trains used by a private enterprise catering to the leisure or tourism market, such as dinner trains or tourist trains to an historical destination.

Federal Highway Administration: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) coordinates highway transportation programs in cooperation with States and other partners to enhance the country's safety, economic vitality, quality of life, and the environment. Major program areas include the Federal-Aid Highway Program, which provides Federal financial assistance to the States to construct and improve the National Highway System, urban and rural roads, bridges, and pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

Federal Railroad Administration: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) promotes safe and environmentally sound rail transportation. FRA sets and enforces safety standards for track, signals, motive power and equipment, hazardous materials, operating practices, and highway-rail crossings. The FRA conducts research and development projects to support its safety mission and enhance the railroad system as a national transportation resource. FRA also administers public education campaigns addressing highway-rail grade crossing safety and the danger of trespassing on rail property.

Federal Transit Administration: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) assists in developing improved mass transportation systems for cities and communities nationwide. Through its grant programs, FTA helps plan, build, and operate transit systems with convenience, cost, and accessibility in mind.

Fixed Transit: Transit service with fixed guideways includes heavy and light transit rail. In general usage, fixed transit also is known as rapid rail, rapid transit rail, transit mode, or transit railway.

Heavy Rail: Exclusive rights-of-way, multi-car trains, high speed rapid acceleration, sophisticated signaling, and high platform loading characterize fixed transit heavy rail. In general terms, heavy rail also is known as subway, elevated railway, or metropolitan railway (metro).

Light Rail: Light rail transit may be exclusive or shared rights-of-way, high or low platform loading, multi-car trains or single cars, automated or manually operated. In general usage, light rail includes trolley cars, streetcars, and tramways.

Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices: The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) provides standards and guidelines for traffic control devices that regulate, warn, and guide road users along the highways and byways in the United States. The FHWA published the most recent edition, The Millennium Edition, in December of 2000, with revisions in December 2001. Part 8 provides guidelines for signs, signals, markings, and other warning devices at all highway-rail grade crossings. Part 9 provides standards for bicycle facilities including on-road treatments and shared use paths. Part 10 provides standards and guidelines for highway-light rail grade crossings. See http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/kno-millennium_12.28.01.htm.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets and enforces safety and performance standards for motor vehicles and equipment; helps States and local communities reduce the threat of impaired drivers; promotes the use of safety belts, child safety seats, and air bags; provides consumer information on motor vehicle safety topics; conducts research on driver behavior and traffic safety; and promotes traffic safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Railbanking: The preservation of otherwise abandoned railroad easements for possible future railroad activity by interposition of interim trail use.

Rail-Trail: Usually refers to a trail developed on an abandoned or converted railroad line (a rail-to-trail), where there is no active rail service; however, it may be used to refer to any trail associated with active rail or rail property, e.g., RWT.

Rail-with-Trail (RWT): Any shared-use path that is located on or directly adjacent to an active railroad or fixed route transit corridor.

Setback: The lateral distance between the centerline of the "nearest track" (that track located closest to the RWT or other physical feature under consideration) to the nearest edge of the trail or to the separation feature (fence, wall, etc.).

Separation: A feature, such as fencing, wall, vegetation, body of water, or vertical elevation difference, that is found, placed, or used to separate a railroad track or railroad corridor and an RWT, sufficient to prevent or discourage access to an active rail right-of-way by trail users.

Shared use path: A trail that is physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or barrier and either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way. Shared use paths may be used by bicyclists, pedestrians, skaters, wheelchair users, runners and other nonmotorized users.

Short Line Railroad: See Class III Railroad.

Trespasser: A person who enters or remains upon property in the possession of another without a privilege to do so, created by the possessor's consent or otherwise.

Updated: 02/11/2014
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000