Hundreds of railroad tracks cross over state highways and roadways throughout Northeast Florida and thousands of cars drive over these tracks every day. The continuous impact of cars and trains alike contribute to the deterioration of the crossings, affecting durability and efficiency. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District Two Rail Office has a crossing rebuild program for crossings located on the state highway system. The existing crossings are replaced with a more durable, longer- lasting concrete.
Since May 2015, FDOT has partnered with CSX, FEC Railroad, First Coast Railroad and Florida Northern Railroad to replace 13 crossings in Duval, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns and Clay counties. The state highways and roadways that cross over railroad tracks are maintained by FDOT and FDOT collaborates with the respective railways to maintain and upgrade them for safety and efficiency.
“We maintain an ongoing three-year work program, adding new crossing rebuild projects every year, and we try to get each location back in the work program every eight to 10 years, ” said Donna Whitney, FDOT District Railroad Coordinator. “District 2 has approximately 78 State Road crossings and more than 800 public at-grade crossings.”
A crossing replacement project averages about seven days, but can last longer, depending on the number and conditions of the tracks and the condition of the immediate roadway. A replacement project on Edgewood Avenue south of Beaver Street (U.S. 90) took 15 days in July. Three railroad tracks were replaced at this site, and sidewalks and medians were rebuilt near the crossing. The two-week long project resulted in a smoother ride over the tracks, and added a longer life-span to the crossing.
Of the 13 crossings replaced since May, one crossing was closed for two months in conjunction with the FDOT Marietta I-10 Interchange project. The railroad crossing located on Devoe Street east of Beaver Street (U.S. 90) was replaced and Devoe Street from Beaver Street to Mallory Road was widened from two to four lanes. In addition, sidewalks were added to both sides of the street, medians have been installed and a roundabout has been added at Mallory Road. The crossing and street reopened December 1.
The shortest duration of a crossing replacement project was only two days. The crossing at U.S. 17 located just north of the A1A intersection in Nassau County was closed for approximately 48 hours in late June. During all crossing closures, detours are in place, and law enforcement is on site.
The state and federally-funded railroad crossing replacement projects totaled approximately $4.9 million in 2015. Eleven crossings are scheduled to be replaced in 2016. The newer crossings are built to last more than 20 years and add to the safety and efficiency of Northeast Florida’s roadways.