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
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
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.
In other business,
Park Superintendent Bruce Mathias reported that three semi loads of
playground equipment arrived last week for Dogwood, Chesterton, and Olde
Town Engineer Mark
O’Dell is currently working on specifications for the installation of the
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.