Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Initial railroad quiet zone study includes 6 crossings

The initial study corridor for railroad quiet zones will include six at-grade crossings in Hartwell, Lockland and Wyoming, but that corridor eventually could be expanded all the way to Glendale.

The City's Department of Transportation and Engineering presented the latest on the study to City Council's Major Transportation and Infrastructure Projects Subcommittee on Feb. 12.

The study seeks to determine the feasibility of reducing train horn noise in densely-populated residential areas. The initial study corridor includes crossings of the CSX lines at Parkway, Sheehan and Millsdale avenues in Hartwell and S Cooper, Wyoming, and Wentworth avenues on the Wyoming/Lockland border.

Under the federal Train Horn Rule, which became effective in 2005, engineers are required to sound the horn for between 15 and 20 seconds in advance of all at-grade train crossings, except:
  • If the train is traveling faster than 45 miles per hour, the horn will not be sounded until the train is within ¼ mile of an at-grade crossing;
  • If the train stops near the at-grade crossing, it does not need to sound its horn when it begins moving again; or
  • If there is a good faith "miss" of an at-grade crossing by the engineer, who was unable to estimate the train's arrival at an at-grade crossing.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) mandates that train horns register at between 96 and 110 decibels.

Quiet zones are established through a partnership between the local government, the railroad, the state, and, finally, through FRA certification of the safety improvements.

By definition, a quiet zone is required to be at least one-half mile in length and be equipped with flashing lights and automatic gates.

Additionally, supplementary safety measures such as four quadrant gates, median barriers, conversion to one-way streets, or wayside horns must be added. These supplementary safety measures cost from between $60,000 per crossing for wayside horns to $500,000 for four quadrant gates.

Any expansion of the corridor depends heavily on the cooperation of neighboring municipalities and the availability of funding for supplementary safety measures and maintenance.

A final report, including estimated options and estimated costs, will be presented to City Council later this year.

Cincinnati has more than 40 public at-grade railroad crossings within the City limits.

Previous reading on BC:
Quiet zones to be studied along heavy railroad corridor (5/14/12)