Civil and Environmental Engineering


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science Major: Civil Engineering Under the Supervision of Professor Elizabeth G. Jones Lincoln, Nebraska August 2010 Copyright 2010 Ryan Haas


The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has deployed a data collection test bed along a rail

corridor in the City of Lincoln. The test bed spans about 2.5 miles along the corridor

which parallels Cornhusker Highway, with the focus placed on the Adams Street

highway rail grade crossing (HRGC). The test bed currently has some data-collecting

capabilities, but the possibility exists that there is additional data that could be useful to

various users of the rail crossings.

To gauge these possible unmet data needs of highway stakeholders, a needs

assessment was carried out by the author. A comprehensive literature review was done to

highlight many HRGC aspects and quantifiable data that are currently available or could

potentially be available to interested highway stakeholders. The results of the literature

review were used to form the framework of the needs assessment, including formulating

questions and topics for the stakeholder discussions. From these discussions, the

adequacy of the current test bed’s ability to meet highway stakeholders’ needs could then

be evaluated. Based on those evaluations some possible strategies could then be

identified for further sensor deployments and other future research along the test bed.

Discussions were conducted with seven highway stakeholders. The results of these

discussions were analyzed and used to identify data commonly available or easily

collected and to identify which of these data were desired by stakeholders. The data

needs, both met and unmet, seemed to follow general trends depending on the type of


The unmet data needs could possibly be provided in the future with various sensors

and equipment. The implementation of any of these recommended treatments along the

test bed could be the basis for future projects to collect, refine, and provide to various

stakeholders additional data better targeted to their needs.