Monroe seeks to hush train horns through these steps
MONROE — City Hall’s interest in silencing train horns while passing through will require some diligence.
To make Monroe a “Railroad Quiet Zone,” there are supplementary safety measures that will need to be added to the city’s five at-grade crossings.
These include “four-way gates” that have arms that come down on all sides, and building roadway medians like what’s already at Kelsey Street. Both are to prevent drivers from skirting around crossing arms to “beat the train.”
Rail track owner Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) wants more warning bells and brighter lighting at the crossings.
It will cost an estimated $2.8 to $3.3 million to do what’s needed so the city can obtain quiet zone status, a recently completed consultant’s study calculated.
A $590,000 federal grant the city won for the rail crossing at Kelsey Street will cover some.
The other crossings are at Fryelands Boulevard, 179th Avenue SE, Lewis Street and Main Street.
Fourteen trains, including two Amtrak passenger trains, pass through Monroe daily. Six trains run at night.
Winning more federal grants in the near future would be the city’s likeliest route for paying for these improvements.
At its June 8 meeting, the City Council is scheduled to direct staff whether to continue the pursuit.
At Kelsey Street, the project would involve multiple steps including adding pedestrian fencing and closing a driveway to a currently empty parcel (southwest corner) between Blueberry Lane and the tracks. The consultant suggests also closing the driveway to Rite Aid (northeast corner). Both driveways are near the tracks. The bus stop just north of Blueberry would need to be relocated.
After the added safety measures are built, the city can expect to pay BNSF between $15,000 and $25,000 a year toward maintaining them, the consultant’s report says.
Trains announce their presence by blowing horns within a quarter-mile of each crossing at a minimum of 96 decibels. On still nights, much of the town can hear the train.
Securing a quiet zone designation requires building enough safety measures to reach the minimum threshold of a scoring system set by the Federal Railroad Administration.
* Read the draft report here (link opens in new window)
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