Chesterton Tribune



Town Council continues to study RR quiet zones

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The Chesterton Town Council continues to flirt with railroad quiet zones.

At its meeting Monday night, Mike Jabo of DLZ confirmed what Member Jim Ton, R-1st, reported two months ago: that the cost of implementing quiet zones--under Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulations--may be substantially less than the $1.25-million price tag originally quoted in discussions this summer.

The FRA permits trains to run quiet through grade-crossings only if those crossings have been retrofitted in such a way as to make it impossible for motorists to go around downed gates. Under certain circumstances double gates or median curbs may have to be installed--or else the crossings re-signalized--and those fixes can be salty.

But other retrofits may be well on this side of cost-prohibitive, Jabo said. “Sometimes improvements can be fairly inexpensive compared to more drastic ones.” Jabo added that he’d consulted the FRA’s “quiet-zone calculator” and learned that “low cost alternatives are plausible.”

One, for instance, would entail the installation of a non-mountable center curb of asphalt with plastic posts inserted into it. That particular option would complicate snow-plowing, Jabo noted, but it’s nevertheless a possible solution.

The real challenge, in fact, may be less the expense than the bureaucracy, Jabo suggested. “Railroads are difficult to work with,” he said. “It’s on their schedule, when they’re ready. There may be a lower-cost range of fixes. But getting the buy-in from the railroad, of course, takes a longer time.”

Ton concurred with that assessment. “You’re at the mercy of the railroad,” he said, then added hopefully that Norfolk Southern--whose right-of-way through town is at issue here--appears generally to be “more approachable” than other railroads.

In any case, Jabo was not prepared at this juncture to quote a price. That would take more research.

Members accordingly voted unanimously to ask Jabo to proceed with that research, with the goal of estimating how much each step in the process--legal, consulting, engineering, construction--is likely to set the town back.

Playground Equipment

In other business, Park Superintendent Bruce Mathias reported that three semi loads of playground equipment arrived last week for Dogwood, Chesterton, and Olde Towne parks.

Town Engineer Mark O’Dell is currently working on specifications for the installation of the equipment.

The equipment was purchased with the proceeds of last year’s $2-million park bond issue. The Dogwood gear cost $182,109.36; the Chesterton Park gear, $23,596.12; the Olde Towne gear, $37,201.03.


Posted 11/16/2016




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