Federal Railroad Administration Announces Online Availability of GradeDec.Net Benefit-Cost Analysis Tool
Monday, January 13, 2003 (Washington, DC) The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced the online availability of GradeDec.Net, an Internet application and database designed to aid benefit-cost analyses of highway-rail grade crossing infrastructure investments.
The application, accessible at www.GradeDec.net , can be used to evaluate the benefits and costs of rail investment projects, specifically those involving highway-rail grade crossing improvements (including grade separation or closure), within a risk analysis framework.
FRA Administrator Allan Rutter said, “I’m pleased that interested parties may now compare the safety, air quality, and highway user benefits to the costs of grade crossing investments online.” He added, “GradeDec.Net provides users with easy online access to key databases and statistical models, generates useful charts, graphs and reports, and allows users to save analyses for distribution, reuse, and refinement.”
Federal infrastructure investment policies require, among other things, analyses of the expected benefits and costs, quantitative and qualitative, of such investments. GradeDec.Net is a revised version of GradeDec, originally developed in 1998 in consultation with several state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations. State, local and regional government agencies, and railroads have used both versions successfully. The GradeDec model was tested and reviewed at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.
The model employs current research findings on the environment, safety, and traffic network analysis. Users can customize analytical models to reflect regional conditions, and to obtain dollar values for a full range of benefit categories. The National Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Inventory database and U.S. Department of Transportation Accident Prediction and Severity Model are integrated features of GradeDec.Net. The application allows users to evaluate expected changes in accident risk, travel time savings, vehicle operating cost savings, and air quality benefits, while accounting for changes in highway-rail crossing maintenance and capital costs.
Users are able to conduct benefit-cost analyses for individual or multiple crossings at the corridor or regional level. Corridor-level analysis allows users to rank crossing improvements by benefit category and to identify grade crossing investments that may reduce highway traffic congestion. A regional-level analysis allows users to evaluate grade crossings for a geographic area as small as a township, or as large as multiple counties or a state.