QUIET ZONES maintain warning lights and crossing gates, but restrict train horn blasts to limited daylight hours except in emergencies.

QUIET ZONES maintain warning lights and crossing gates, but restrict train horn blasts to limited daylight hours except in emergencies.

BRUNSWICK

Brunswick may take another crack at applying for quiet zone status for two downtown railroad crossings.

The town in 2012 applied for expanded quiet zone status for the Union and Stanwood street crossings. That application was rejected by the Federal Railroad Administration owing to the amount of trains traveling through the area.

“We thought we were approved. Pan Am objected to some calculations we used, and we had to start over,” said Town Manager John Eldridge on Monday, referencing the freight operator.

“The little twist” to the story, said Eldridge, is that the town may be able to use a different set of calculations that includes an average of all crossings between Union Street and Freeport, which means the town might qualify for Union and Stanwood crossing quiet zones after all.

Quiet zones maintain warning lights and crossing gates, but restrict train horn blasts to limited daylight hours except in emergencies.

“I’m concerned with not having a horn at certain locations because of high traffic flow,” said Town Councilor John Richardson.

Eldridge noted that the town’s engineering firm may recommend additional supplemental safety upgrades, even if the town qualifies for quiet zone expansion.

In response to the town’s rejected application, Brunswick Public Works Director John Foster estimated in 2014 that upgrades would cost $100,000 to $300,000 per crossing, plus $40,000 for the construction of a new median island and alterations to roadside curbing.

Quiet zones have already been established for Park Row and Maine Street crossings in Brunswick.

Freeport successfully instituted quiet zones for that town’s eight railroad crossings in 2013.

The FRA uses a risk index calculator that takes into account factors such as the rail crossing’s gates system, the amount of trains traveling through the area, and how automobile traffic is directed. If the the risk index is too high, the quiet zone designation is not granted.

Brunswick has spent $3,500 studying the issue so far, and Eldridge is investigating how much more the town may have to spend if it wants to continue pursuing more quiet zones.

Town Councilor Suzan Wilson noted that quiet zones involve a “trade off ” between what the public considers a nuisance and what the railroad operator considers safety.

“Quiet zones aren’t necessarily quiet,” Wilson said. “The operator always has the perogative to use the horn.”

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