WAKEFIELD - “The town will have to come into compliance with train horn regulations set forth by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) by 2010,” said Department of Public Works Director Richard Stinson to the Board of Selectmen at their meeting last evening in the Town Hall conference room.
Stinson is planning to make a full presentation regarding the necessary safety requirements and the options available to the town at the next meeting on Dec. 10. However, he explained to the board that if the community wishes to maintain its “Quiet Zone” (no horns) status, a notice of intent to the FRA will have to be filed within the next few weeks.
“Although we fell into the pre-rule quiet zone category for the six crossing locations in town, there are amended federal regulations that we must come into compliance with now. We don't have automatic approval. We have to include some detail as to what options we have and what we intend to do,” Stinson said.
Stinson noted that the town must implement Alternative Safety Measures (ASM's) which will involve some cost to the town.
ASM's are engineering improvements which, when installed at crossings in a Quiet Zone, will reduce the risk of a collision. These measures, according to the FRA regulations, are meant to substitute the train horn and are installed in order to reduce the risk level, either to the level that would exist if the train horn were sounded (compensating for the absence of the horn) or to a level below the Nationwide Significant Risk Threshold.
The Risk Threshold is the average risk index at all public gated crossings.
The town currently holds a risk index of 37,459, well above the 22,457 rating it held with the use of train horns.
Stinson said that number has to be reduced and once the safety measures are installed they will have to be approved by the FRA.
The improvements could include the installation of four-quadrant gates (train activated warning gates) or the construction of islands and/or medians.
“The gates could cost the town about $500,000,” noted Stinson, adding “and much higher if ‘presence detection’ is included.
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