2018 Highway Rail Safety Conference

Join us April 11-12, 2018, at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in Council Bluffs, Iowa for the 2018 Highway Rail Safety Conference.

We will bring together representatives of federal and state agencies, railroad and rail industry officials, and consultants to discuss and share ideas seeking to improve highway-railroad crossings and reduce injuries and fatalities on railroad right of way.

April 11-12, 2018

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites
2202 River Rd.
Council Bluffs, Iowa

Overnight accommodations

The rooms in the block have been filled.

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites

2202 River Rd.
Council Bluffs, Iowa 51501
Phone: 712-322-5050

Hampton Inn in Council Bluffs

2204 River Road
Council Bluffs, Iowa 51501
Phone: 712-328-2500

Wednesday, April 11

12-4:30 p.m.


1-1:15 p.m.


The Honorable Matt Walsh
Mayor of Council Bluffs, Iowa

1:15-3:20 p.m.


FRA National
Dee Chappell, Highway-Rail Crossing and Trespasser Programs Division (15 minutes)

FRA Regional
Howard Gillespie – Regional manager of grade crossing safety and trespass prevention, FRA Region 6 (15 minutes)

Legislative Update
Nicole Brewin – Railway Supply Institute (15 minutes)

State Rail Offices (10 minutes for each state)

State and National Operation Lifesaver (10 minutes for each state)

3:20-3:40 p.m.


3:40-4:30 p.m.


Chris Keckeisen – UP, Grade Crossing Assessment Program (30 minutes)


4:30-5 p.m.

Concurrent executive meetings

*State rail offices only

*Operation Lifesaver only

Thursday, April 12

7:30-9 a.m.

Continental breakfast

7:30-10 a.m.


8-8:30 a.m.

Crossing safety action plan

Dee Chappell, FRA
What are the expectations of these plans? What guidance is available? What are the mandated timelines?

8:30-9 a.m.

Short Line Safety Institute

Tom Murta, SLSI
An overview of the products and services available to the industry.

9-9:15 a.m.

American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association

Jo Strang, ASLRRA

9:15 - 10 a.m.

Open forum

10-10:20 a.m.


10:20 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Crossing inventory panel discussion

Jim Dahlem, FRA; Bev Vonasek, NDOT; Chris Brownell, MoDOT
A facilitated panel discussion answering questions provided in advance by states, railroads, and the FRA. The discussions will be divided into two sections focusing on admin/policy/communication issues and interface/technical issues. Each section will be followed by its own open question period.

12-1 p.m.

Lunch provided

1-1:45 p.m.

New AREMA interconnect and advance preemption standards

Jason Field, Moffatt & Nichol

1:45-2 p.m.

Grade crossing research needs update

Howard Gillespie, FRA Region 6

2-3 p.m.

Section 130 priorization methodology

Kelly Morton, FHWA; Ric Cruz, TAVLA Solutions; Chris Brownell, MoDOT; Steve Prange, CMT; John Shaw, InTrans; Phil Meraz, Iowa DOT; Chris Goepel, HDR
A panel discussion describing current studies and innovations in the methods used to prioritize crossings. This should include maintenance/replacement of aging systems.

3-3:30 p.m.

Four state conference debrief and planning