Multi-criteria prioritization of highway-rail grade crossings for improvements: a case study

Jacob Mathew, Rahim F. Benekohal, Mark Berndt, Jeannie Beckett, Jeff McKerrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a multi-criteria methodology for prioritizing highway-rail grade crossings for grade separation or other major improvements. The traditional approach for making grade-crossing investment decisions has been guided primarily by the Federal Highway Administration Railroad–Highway Grade Crossing Handbook, which focuses heavily on traffic and safety-related factors. However, it does not consider other criteria such as economic competitiveness, environmental sustainability, and livability. Due to factors including 1) increasing traffic demands resulting in significant delays at crossings, 2) the high cost of grade separation, 3) the long-lasting impact of grade separation on a community, and 4) funding requirements from grant applications, several factors should be considered in crossing selection. The main contributions of this paper are 1) a novel robust prioritization methodology that considers safety, economic, environmental, and community/livability. 2) a case study that prioritizes crossings at two separate rail corridors and a comparison of the results with the expert judgment. The case studies use data that is readily available to practitioners and implementation is fostered by the provision of an Excel Toolkit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-518
Number of pages40
JournalUrban, Planning and Transport Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Multi-criteria method
  • grade crossing safety
  • grade separation
  • highway-rail grade crossing
  • ranking and prioritizing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies
  • Transportation
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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