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Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit:
2004 Conditions and Performance
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Chapter 19 Executive Summary

Highway-Rail Grade Crossings

An analysis of highway-rail grade crossings on the Federal-aid highway system by the Federal Railroad Administration finds that all categories of highway users could face delay costs of up to $8.8 billion at grade crossings over the next 20 years. Auto users could spend 86.5 million more hours delayed at crossings and truckers could log an additional 10.7 million hours behind closed gates in 2024, compared with 2004. Bus delay could increase by 8.9 million hours over the next 20 years.

Costs compared to 2004 levels for different possible funding levels. Bar chart comparing values for four cost categories and total cost over seven levels of annual investment of year 2004 dollars. At an investment of 100 million dollars, travel time costs, vehicle operating costs, and emissions costs are on the plus side of the axis, ranging from about 5 percent to just under 7 percent, while safety costs are on the minus side of the axis at nearly 1 percent. At an investment of 150 million dollars, travel time costs, vehicle operating costs, and emissions costs are on the plus side of the axis, ranging from 4 percent to 5 percent, while safety costs are on the minus side of the axis at 1 percent. At an investment of 200 million dollars, travel time costs, vehicle operating costs, and emissions costs are on the plus side of the axis, ranging from under 2 percent to more than 3 percent, while safety costs are on the minus side of the axis at more than1 percent. At an investment of 250 million dollars, travel time costs, vehicle operating costs, and emissions costs are on the plus side of the axis, ranging below 1 percent, while safety costs are on the minus side of the axis at nearly 2 percent. At an investment of 300 million dollars, all costs are all on the minus side of the axis, ranging from 2 percent to more than 5 percent. At an annual investment of 350 million dollars, all costs are on the minus side of the axis, ranging from 3.5 percent to about 7 percent, and at an average annual investment of 300 million dollars, all costs are on the minus side of the axis, ranging from nearly 4 percent to nearly 10 percent. Total costs trend downward from just above plus 4 percent to nearly minus 8 percent.

An estimated $250 million annual investment in grade separation over the next 20 years could maintain highway user costs at grade crossings at 2004 levels. A projected annual investment of $400 million would be sufficient to separate all grade crossings on the Federal-aid highway system where estimated highway user costs exceed capital investment requirements.

These two investment levels are comparable to the "Maintain User Costs" and "Maximum Economic Investment" scenarios for highways discussed in Chapter 7. Some grade separation improvements also are reflected in the estimates of the "Cost to Maintain Highways and Bridges" and "Cost to Improve Highways and Bridges" scenarios presented in Chapter 7.

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