Quantifying the Public Impacts of Highway-Rail Grade Crossings on Surface Mobility Regional Impact Model Academic Article uri icon


  • This research developed a model to evaluate the impacts associated with delayed vehicular traffic at highwayrail grade crossings in the eight-county area surrounding Houston, Texas. Vehicle traffic data, such as average daily traffic and distributions by roadway class and hour of day, were obtained from state and local agencies. Data from the operating railroads were used to determine train operating levels on an hourly basis for each rail corridor. Grade crossing data and unit costs were obtained from public sources. The developed model calculated the quantitative and monetary costs of mobility, fuel consumption, safety, and air quality impacts associated with vehicular impedance at rail grade crossings. It defined the existing (baseline) mobility constraints associated with train operations in the study region and provided a method to compare the impacts of potential infrastructure projects, changes in train operations, or both with the public benefits accruing from those changes during 10- and 20-year periods. Public benefits can reach significant levels and may take the form of a reduction in the cost burden associated with road traffic delays induced by rail operations. The model has been applied in a regional rail freight study and has the potential for application in a host of other locations; this model will allow for the evaluation of investments in rail and highway infrastructure or operations, ultimately ensuring that public benefits are commensurate with public costs.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Protopapas, A., Roop, S. S., Morgan, C. A., Warner, J. E., & Olson, L. E.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Protopapas, Annie||Roop, Stephen S||Morgan, Curtis A||Warner, Jeffery E||Olson, Leslie E

publication date

  • January 2010