FRA releases online benefit-cost analysis tool

Posted on January 13, 2003

The Federal Railroad Administration created an online application and database designed to aid benefit-cost analyses of highway-rail grade crossing infrastructure investments. The application and site, GradeDec.Net, can be used to evaluate the benefits and costs of rail investment projects within a risk analysis framework. The program uses 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 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. Benefit-cost analyses can be performed 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. GradeDec.Net is a revised version of GradeDec, which was developed in 1998 in consultation with several state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations.

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