An engineering study on the possibilities of creating a railroad quiet zone in Waxahachie is nearly complete.
HDR Engineering Inc. is in the final stages of getting contracts readied for the review and approval of the city council, which will probably see the documents at its meeting June 18 or July 9, according to City Manager Paul Stevens.
The quiet zone study was begun in April 2006 by then-director of planning Michael Scott, who is now assistant city manager.
After the report and contracts are presented to the council, design and survey work is anticipated to take about nine months. Following review by the Texas Department of Transportation and the railroads and the completion of final construction drawings, the project may be completed by late 2009.
“If things go well, (it will be) late 2009,” Stevens said.
The study will call for improvements at several of the city’s railroad crossings, including the installation of wayside horns, quadrant gates and median barriers.
However, the study also proposed closing some of the city’s crossings.
“Those that should be and could be considered for closure are Highland Avenue (near Marvin), North Hawkins and Aiken,” Stevens said, emphasizing that “at this point, there’s been no final decision made on those, but the consultant in going through his work (proposes closing those crossings) due to the traffic patterns and the costs it would take to make those a quiet zone area, and due to the safety issues that are there.”
One of the city’s most traveled crossings is also addressed in the study and may receive significant improvements.
The crossing located on U.S. Highway 77 (Elm Street) near Citizens National Bank of Texas’ downtown location “is one of the biggest concerns as far as safety,” Stevens said.
“As flat as that is and as smooth as it is there, there’s no visual barrier to stop you except for the lights, and for so many people at the speed they’re traveling, they look and say, ‘Well, I can beat the train’ and that’s never a good thing,” Stevens said.
Proposed improvements for the crossing include quadrant gates (a set of four crossing gates to block off all lanes of traffic in both directions) and a median barrier, the latter of which is needed due to the street’s width.
Due to restrictions on the maximum length of crossing gates, the city would not be able to put up quadrant gates without a median barrier, Stevens said, adding, “If you had them (crossing gates) on both sides of the road, they wouldn’t be long enough and there would be a gap in the middle.”
Improvements are also planned for the crossing on North Rogers Street, which is slated — along with a number of others — to get crossing gates this summer. Further improvements such as wayside horns and signals may be emplaced as part of the quiet zone project.
The report prepared by HDR examines the cost-effectiveness of various treatments for the city’s railroad crossing, and seeks to make them safer as well as enable passing trains to not have to sound their horns.
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