New York State Local Technical Assistance Program

Is there any standard policy available pertaining to plowing and salting railroad grade crossings?



Yes, NYSDOT has a policy modification to their Snow and Ice Guidelines specifically meant to address railroad crossings.

Modification to Chapter 5 of the Highway Maintenance Guidelines,
Section 5.3307, Removal of Snow from Special Areas
K. Railroad Crossings

When approaching a railroad crossing while plowing snow, the operator shall stop all equipment, including snowplows, graders or snow blowers a short distance before the tracks. Roll down window to listen for train horns. Raise the plow and wing or blower head slightly. After checking both directions of the track to be sure there are no oncoming trains, cautiously proceed and clear snow, ice, frozen materials and other obstructions from the crossing and flange ways with the plow and wing plowing operation to the extent possible.

Never stop on the tracks. Never go around downed gates, and never pass flashing red railroad crossing lights unless waived through by a railroad watchman or railroad flagman.

Railroad crossing equipment and signals may be affected by the accumulation of chlorides in railroad ballast left by salt and all salt brines (liquids) possibly resulting in false activations of signals and crossing gates. Standard salt/treated salt application rates should be applied at railroad crossings. Operators should avoid “blasting” salt on the crossing or tracks. If additional measures must be taken to prevent pavement icing and/or hard pack formation at the crossing, the operator should contact their supervisor. The supervisor should consult with the railroad for further guidance.

If an operator comes across a crossing where the gates are down, or red lights are flashing, and after 5 minutes no train comes through, the operator should notify their dispatcher or supervisor. Ask them to notify the railroad and wait for further instructions. The railroad dispatch number is usually posted at the crossing along with the crossing number. In this situation, no supervisor may authorize a driver to cross the tracks without on-site approval from a railroad representative. Beat coverage may need to be modified to cover the highways on both sides of the tracks until the crossing malfunction is corrected.

NYSDOT Snow and Ice Control Guidelines

Cornell Local Roads Program Snow and Ice Control Workshop Manual

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