Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Project development

Engineering process | Planning



Coordination with railroads regarding their facilities on our trunk highway projects ensures public safety, prudent use of funding, and efficient project constructability.  It is also essential for maintaining the project schedule and properly allocating funding.

When to use this subject

There are several situations where you will need to contact the Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations (OFCVO) Rail Safety and Coordination Section:

  • You expect any construction activity within Railroad Company Right of Way or road easement across railroad tracks
  • Equipment (such as a crane of lift) may be used that could fall onto Railroad Company Right of Way
  • The project has a traffic signal within 500 feet of a signalized railroad crossing
  • The project limits are within approximately 600 feet of any railroad tracks
  • The project has a detour that directs traffic across a railroad grade crossing

In any of these cases, the project may need:

  • A railroad Construction and Maintenance Agreement
  • A safety evaluation
  • Additional safety mitigations as part of the project
  • An estimate of project railroad costs

Railroad issues can affect many aspects of a highway project scope and design.  Some examples are pre-engineering activities related to railroad property access, railroad property use, project drainage, bridge design elements and pier locations, roadway geometrics, and horizontal and vertical track clearances.    

For specific process information, contact one of the individuals above and see the Railroads Process.

How this subject fits into the overall project development process

In the planning phase, contact the OFCVO Rail Safety and Coordination Section for an early estimate of potential railroad costs.  This early coordination is important so that the STIP can properly identify funding for the railroad elements.  Early identification of railroad right of way issues is important in scoping. 

Railroad coordination and railroad project feedback need to begin as soon as possible in the project scoping and concept design phase.  Project design details and vetting of the railroad property and operational impacts are critical, so you must give them priority to prevent complications of unacceptable designs related to railroad approval or constructability. 

Because railroad impacts and costs can be a factor when selecting a preferred alternative, contact the OFVCO Rail Safety and Coordination Section if there are any railroad issues when you are evaluating alternatives. 

If a project has railroad implications, contact the OFVCO Rail Safety and Coordination Section at the start of both the predesign and final design phases and at any point that significant changes occur.

Organizations involved

  • MnDOT:
    • OFCVO Rail Safety and Coordination Section
    • Project Managers
    • District Design
    • Land Management
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Federal Rail Administration (FRA)
  • Railroad Companies
  • Operation Lifesaver
  • American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA)