City administrators said a council member’s proposal to address train horn noise through town as an economic development and quality of life measure would be costly and won’t be pursued.
Patrick Titterington, service and safety director, said the decision came following review of a report compiled by City Engineer Deborah Swan on train quiet zones.
The estimated cost of meeting federal requirements so train horns could be silenced was just over $1.9 million.
Councilman Al Clark suggested creating the quiet zone through town due, in part, to efforts to encourage economic development on the east side, where the CSX line runs north-south. He also said train noise also is a quality of life issue along the line.
The goal, Clark said in an email to fellow council members, would be a “re-gentrified east end that is quiet, business and residential friendly.”
In her report, Swan said a quiet zone is a railroad crossing where trains are prohibited from sounding their horns. “The train horns can be silenced only when other federal safety measures compensate for the absence of the horns,” she said.
The city would have to qualify for a quiet zone designation and, from information she reviewed, “need to make substantial improvements to all crossings to meet” the federal quiet zone requirements, Swan said.
Any study or plan would address 10 crossings on the CSX main line. Nine are public crossings, while one at Dakota Street is a private crossing. All public crossings today have warning lights and all but one have crossing arms/gates. The private crossing also does not have crossing arms/gates.
Swan’s estimate for any project includes $450,000 for crossing arms for the public crossing at Franklin Street and the private crossing plus consultant fees for analysis and detailed design plans ($122,000).
Another $1.37 million was estimated to pay for supplemental safety measures that likely would be required for all crossings.
Among those anticipated measures are enhanced crossing gates, median barriers and directional horn systems. The horn systems are horns placed at crossing in place of the train horn. The directional horns deliver a warning to motorists and pedestrians but direct sound away from neighborhoods along the tracks.
Titterington said in an email that Mayor Mike Beamish thinks staff had completed research needed.
“Even if we had that kind of money in reserves, Mayor Beamish and I firmly believe that a truer community-wide economic development initiative worthier of investment would be the Riverfront/Treasure Island development,” Titterington wrote.
The city owned Treasure Island is accessible off North Elm Street and includes a boathouse from which the independently owned Tin Roof restaurant operates.
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