Rail Crossing Formal Applications

CPUC authorization is required to construct or modify a rail crossing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Does a rail crossing project require a "formal application" or "GO 88-B" authorization from CPUC?

Authority to construct a new public rail crossing is typically granted by the CPUC through the "formal application" process outlined in the Rules of Practice and Procedure, Rules 3.7 to 3.11, which results in an Order issued by the Commission. 

Authority to modify an existing public rail crossing is typically granted through the General Order 88-B (GO 88-B) authorization process which results in an authorization letter from the Rail Crossings and Engineering Branch supervisor under authority delegated from the Commission, if General Order 88-B is applicable.

2. When is a formal application required?

Whenever a new public rail crossing is to be constructed, including the establishment of a public crossing at an existing private crossing location.  A formal application may sometimes be required to authorize alterations to an existing crossing where all parties cannot agree on the alterations, or for projects not meeting the requirements of GO 88-B.

3. What about minor alterations?

A letter may be submitted to CPUC staff in the Rail Crossings and Engineering Branch to request authority to alter a crossing, pursuant to GO 88-B.  Refer to General Order 88-B for details.

Such alterations may include roadway widening within the existing right-of-way, approach grade changes, track elevation changes, roadway realignment within the existing or contiguous right-of-way, change in the type or addition of an automatic signaling device, the addition of one track within existing railroad right-of-way, alteration or reconstruction of a grade-separated crossing, or construction of a grade-separation that eliminates an existing at-grade crossing.

4. Are rail transit crossings authorized in the same way?

Rail transit crossing projects may be authorized through the formal application or GO 88-B process discussed above.

5. Who can file an application?

See the Rules of Practice and Procedure, Rules 3.7 to 3.11. Generally speaking, the road agency (city, county, or state), railroad, or rail transit agency.

6. Is it necessary to contact the CPUC prior to filing an application?

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact and work with the Commission’s Rail Crossings and Engineering Branch (RCEB) prior to making any formal application for a rail crossing.  RCEB will be able to advise and assist in assuring the application is complete, preventing it from being rejected by the CPUC Docket Office.  Additionally, a copy of the application sent directly to RCEB may expedite processing.

Please see item 11 below regarding review of a draft application.

7. How do I file a formal application?

Follow the Rules of Practice and Procedure, Rules 3.7 to 3.11 regarding the specific items that must be included in formal applications to establish or modify rail crossings.

Please be aware that the application must meet the formatting and other requirements of Rule 1 (in particular see Rule 1.5 et seq.).

It is highly recommended that the applicant use the CPUC's electronic filing system (e-filing).  Alternatively, the application and scoping memo may be sent by U.S. Mail to the docket office.

For details, please see the additional information about CPUC Proceedings.

8. What is a scoping memo?

Applications are required to include the following information:

1. Category
2. Is there a need for a hearing?
3. Issues
4. Schedule

Please review additional information on the Scoping Memo, which includes a sample. Rail crossings applications are considered "rate setting".

9. How many copies are required?

If application is filed electronically, then follow the e-filing instructions.

If application is filed by paper, Rule 1.13(b) requires an original and six exact copies (of application and all attachments) to be submitted to the Commission Docket Office.

10. Should I e-file or submit hard copies?

Applicants are strongly encouraged to file electronically ("e-file"). Please follow the e-filing instructions.

11. How do I make sure the filing is acceptable to the CPUC Docket Office?

Applicants should ensure that the content and filing procedure is consistent with the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure in order for an Application to be accepted by the Commission's Docket Office.  This should be carefully reviewed prior to submitting an Application.  Common errors include captions improperly formatted, incorrect number of copies, maps not being folded or reduced to 8 1/2 x 11 inches, and failure to get prior review for any deviations from the rules, such as filing environmental review documentation on CD-ROM.

Upon E-filing the Application, the filer should send an email to the Docket Office (efile-help@cpuc.ca.gov) that identifies the E-filing confirmation number (5 digits), and provides an MS Word file attachment with the caption for the Proceeding.  This should match the caption required by Rule 1.6(a)(2), which appears on the Application title page, at the upper left below the heading.

As of April 2018, the Rules of Practice and Procedure, Rule 1.13(b), allows for electronic submission of documents that do "not exceed 1.5 gigabytes in size."

If the electronic file size exceeds 1.5 gigabytes, the large exhibits can be submitted on one Archival-Grade DVD, as an original, and onto seven (7) CD-ROMs as copies.  Mail it to the attention of the Docket Office contact, along with a copy of the E-file confirmation receipt for the Application.  The Docket Office mailing address is:

CPUC Docket Office
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

You can contact the CPUC Docket Office at efile-help@cpuc.ca.gov or call at (415)703-2121.

12. Are there any recommended examples of Formal Application filings (format, attachments, etc.)?

Applications submitted to the Commission can be found on the CPUC website by searching for the Proceeding number.

Some well-prepared examples include the proceeding documents linked below:
(1)  A1510007 – Raymond Road, Madera County (Underpass)
Note: EXHIBIT D is the Final Environmental Report/Final Environmental Statement submitted for filing in the format of an Archival-Grade DVD.  ATTACHMENT 4 is the Notice of Availability of the Final Environmental Report/Final Environmental Statement which is incorporated by reference into subsequent Applications where those reports continue to apply. See, A.16-09-010, below.
(2) A1601013 – Ave 7, Ave 8, Ave 9, Ave 10, Ave 11, and Ave 12 at HST, Madera County    (Overheads)
(3) A1605016 – State Route 145, Madera County (Underpass)
(4) A1609010 – San Joaquin River Viaduct at UPRR Mainline, Fresno County (Rail-Rail)
(5) A1705014 – Downtown Fresno Viaduct at BNSF Spur Track, Fresno County (Rail-Rail)
(6) A1708019 – State Route 99 and State Route 99 On-Ramp, Fresno County (Underpasses)


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