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U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE.
Washington, D.C. 20590
February 24, 2017
In Reply Refer To: HOTO-1
Mr. Richard M. Campbell
9601 Camp Bowie West
Fort Worth, TX 76116
Dear Mr. Campbell:
Thank you for your letter of February 15 requesting an official interpretation regarding the use of edge lines at grade crossings.
Edge lines are described in detail in Section 3B.06 of the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD). Dotted extensions of edge lines through intersections or driveways are described in detail in Section 3B.08. Neither of these sections prohibits the use of edge lines or edge line extensions in the vicinity of grade crossings.
The primary reason for using edge lines at a grade crossing, including on the approaches and departures and between the tracks, would be to discourage road users from erroneously turning onto the track(s) at the grade crossing itself instead of proceeding straight across the track(s) and turning at a nearby downstream highway-highway intersection.
The following are the two specific questions that you asked in your request for an official interpretation:
Regarding Question 1, there are no provisions in the 2009 MUTCD that prohibit the use of edge lines in the vicinity of a grade crossing. As far as the placement of edge lines between the tracks of a multi-track grade crossing is concerned, there are no provisions in the 2009 MUTCD that prohibit this placement.
The edge lines used on the approach to, the departure from, and where multiple tracks exist, between the tracks at a grade crossing should be solid lines to distinguish them from the dotted lines that are used to extend edge lines across intersections and driveways into which road users are permitted to turn.
Regarding Question 2, per Paragraph 6 of Section 8A.02 and Paragraph 8 of Section 8A.03, before any traffic control device is installed at a grade crossing, approval shall be obtained from the highway agency and the railroad company or the light-rail transit agency, respectively. A determination from a diagnostic team, which would have representation from both the highway agency and the railroad company or light-rail transit agency, would be an ideal manner of making sure that all parties of interest agree with the use, placement, and design of edge lines at the grade crossing.
It is the FHWA's official interpretation that edge lines may be used at grade crossings where such use has been determined based on engineering judgment to be beneficial to traffic control or safety, as long as both the highway agency and the railroad company or light-rail transit agency have agreed to the use, placement, and design of the edge lines that will be installed at the grade crossing.
For recordkeeping purposes, we have assigned the following official ruling number and title: "8(09)-26 (I) – Use of Edge Lines at Grade Crossings." Please refer to this number and title in any future correspondence regarding this topic.
Thank you for your interest in improving the clarity of the provisions contained in the MUTCD.
Original signed by:
Mark R. Kehrli
Director, Office of Transportation Operations
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration