Bastrop News

City Seeks Train ‘Quiet Zones’

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By Terry Hagerty – Contributing writer

Bastrop City Manager Mike Talbot will give an update Tuesday to the City Council on efforts to get ‘quiet zones’ established at railroad crossings in town. Talbot said city officials “had a good meeting” Thursday with Union Pacific Railroad representatives – part of the city’s efforts to get trains to quiet their warning horns.

The efforts come in the wake of several recent requests to the City over the past year from citizens who said their sleep was being disrupted by train horns at night. . (Talbot gives a twice-per-month Update Report to the Council, which will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall).

A quiet zone is a section of a rail line that contains one or more consecutive public crossings at which locomotive horns are not routinely sounded. Train horns may still be used in emergency situations. Localities desiring to establish a quiet zone are first required to mitigate the potentially increased risk caused by the absence of a horn.

Trey Job, the city’s Public Works Director, and Gene Kruppa, engineering consultant with BEFCO Engineering (La Grange), met with Union Pacific Railroad officials. Job said railroad officials look at traffic counts at crossings, and also consider train speeds, to establish a “risk” factor at each crossing being considered for quiet zones. An overall risk ‘average’ is then determined by studying all the crossings being considered. Part of the risk-index approach is that it estimates the likelihood of a fatal or non-fatal casualty resulting from a collision at a highway-rail crossing, according to the Federal Highway Administration,

The city has 11 crossings that could be part of the quiet zone. Although the railroad has actual control of the safety measures in the immediate track area – including the ‘arms’ that drop as trains approach crossings – cities can help increase safety levels on the street approaches to quiet-zone crossings with more warning signs, additional flashing lights synced with the rail crossings’ flashing lights, and other measures.

Discussions will continue with railroad officials, Talbot said.

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