Office of Rail Transportation

Frequently Asked Questions

Railroad Crossing Surface Repairs

How do we get a rough rail crossing fixed?

Contact the highway authority (city or county) responsible for the particular roadway and ask them to work with the operating railroad company to seek repairs to the crossing.

Is there a DOT program that will help a city or county fix a railroad crossing surface?

Yes. A state program provides 60% of the project cost to rebuild public highway-railroad crossings. The railroad and highway authority each provide 20% of the project cost. Funding requests for a crossing surface repair project can be made by the city or county and the railroad, through an application form. The applications are funded on a first come/first served basis.

What is the typical waiting period to receive funding?

The waiting period is approximately four years, due to the large backlog of projects. The state fund receives $900,000 annually from the Road Use Tax Fund.

How do projects get chosen or prioritized for funding?

Projects are funded in the order in which applications are received. 

How does a crossing become eligible for the program?

All public crossings are eligible for crossing surface repair program funding. When a crossing is identified by the highway authority, (city or county) or the railroad, and each agrees to pay the matching funds an application may be filed. Private roadway railroad crossings are not eligible. More information on surface repair assistance.

What can we do in the meantime while waiting for a bad crossing to be funded?

Contact the highway authority and ask them to work with the railroad company to seek remedial repairs until the Crossing Surface Repair Program can fund your project request. Railroads are required by Iowa Code 327G.2 to maintain a "good, sufficient, and safe crossings."

Who is the DOT surface repair contact person?

Mary Jo Key manages the Grade Crossing Surface Repair Programs. Mary Jo can provide you with the name of the operating railroad and the appropriate contact person. Mary Jo can be reached at 515-239-1108. 

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.  

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