Office of Rail Transportation

Frequently Asked Questions

Rail Crossing Information

How do we identify a railroad crossing?

The Federal Railroad Administration assigns each railroad crossing a unique identification number that consists of six numbers followed by a letter. Each crossing should have an identification tag with the name of the railroad company and the identification number . The embossed metal tag is 4" X 9" and is generally located on the signal or crossbuck post. If you cannot find the identification number, the street name and general location may be sufficient for identification.

How can I get information on a particular highway-rail crossing?

The Federal Grade Crossing Inventory contains detailed inventory information on each crossing. The crossing number can be used to search the crossing inventory database or you can search by location if you do not know the crossing number. 

What is the difference between public and private crossings?

A public crossing is the location where railroad tracks intersect a roadway which is part of the general system of public streets and highways, and is under the jurisdiction of and maintained by a public authority and open to the general traveling public.

A private crossing is one that is on a private roadway which may connect to part of the general systems of public streets and highways but is not maintained by a public authority. Usually, it is a crossing where the property on both sides or at least one side of the railroad tracks is private property. Private crossings are intended for the exclusive use of the adjoining property owner and the property owner's family, employees, agents, patrons and invitees. Crossings are classified as private where the normal need or use is for residential, farm, recreation/cultural, industrial or commercial activities.

The warning devices specified in Part 8 of the MUTCD are not necessarily applicable to private crossings. There may be no warning signs at private crossings or there may be a stop sign or a crossbuck. More information on crossings.

How many public railroad crossings are in the state of Iowa?

There are 4,471 public at-grade crossings in the state of Iowa.

Are the railroads required to provide private crossings to landowners?

The railroads are only required to provide crossings to landlocked property owners. Private crossings are typically established through an agreement by the private landowner and the railroad. Iowa Code 327G.11 requires railroads to construct farm crossings for farming or agricultural purposes.

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