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

Register for the conference
There will be a $49 registration fee that will include breakfast and lunch on April 12.

Overnight accommodations

If you require overnight accommodations, there is a block of rooms reserved at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites for $93/night (+tax).

This link will not work on tablets or mobile devices.

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites

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

There is also a block of rooms reserved at the Hampton Inn in Council Bluffs for $93/night (+tax).

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.


1:15-3:20 p.m.


FRA National
Ron Ries – Staff Director, 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)


Others as they become available

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.

Shortline Safety Institute

Tom Murta, SSI
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

Ron Ries, 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, Moffitt and Nicholl

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