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Evaluation of sight distance as a criterion for prioritizing rail-highway intersections in Texas
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Priority or hazard indices are used by the states to rank their rail-highway intersections according to relative hazard to aid in locating crossings for treatment of conditions and/or improvements in warning devices. The Texas Priority Index has been effective over the years in identifying particularly hazardous rail-highway intersections based on high vehicle volumes, train volumes, and accident histories, and these crossings have been treated or improved. Many of the remaining crossings, however, are not well discriminated in terms of their need for improvement; many crossings have the same index number. The objective of this research was to evaluate sight distance as a criterion for prioritizing rail-highway intersections in Texas to help distinguish between the crossings with similar or identical priority index numbers. Accident and sight distance data were compiled and analyzed. A sight distance variable was incorporated into the current Texas Priority Index and evaluated for its effects on the overall ranking of the rail-highway intersections. A state hazard index was chosen from a state-of-the-practice review with which to compare the current and revised Texas Priority Indices. Finally, the effectiveness of each of the indices was predicted in terms of the distribution of priority index numbers and their ability to move the most potentially hazardous crossings up in the rankings. It was concluded from the accident analysis that sight distance contributed to more vehicle-train accidents than any other factor. Further, improvements to warning devices at passive crossings would effectively reduce the overall sight obstruction, reduce the number of train involved accidents, and thus, reduce the number of injuries and fatalities resulting from accidents at rail-highway intersections. It was concluded from the field data analysis that the Method 1 revised Texas Priority Index was the most effective index of the four priority indices evaluated in this thesis for ranking crossings in terms of exposure, accident history, sight distance, and protection type. The Method 1 revised index was effective at redistributing the individual index numbers in the rank and identifying crossings with restricted sight distance while conserving the significance of the exposure values.
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Includes bibliographical references.
Pecheux, Kelley Klaver (1993). Evaluation of sight distance as a criterion for prioritizing rail-highway intersections in Texas. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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