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Council to get report on railroad quiet zones

By DAVID TEWES
Aug. 1, 2010 at 3:01 a.m.


ALSO ON THE AGENDA The city council will also consider approving on final vote increased fees for renting the community center complex.

The higher rent is expected to produce about $8,300 in income a year based on 2009 use, once it is fully in effect in two years.

There will also be a new fee for chairs and tables that will take effect this summer, but it won't apply to existing contracts.

It calls for a charge of $1 per table and 25 cents per chair, which is expected to raised about $29,000 a year beginning in two years.

Mark Garretson knows only too well how annoying the blaring horns of trains can be as they pass through Victoria.

"It wakes me up at night," said Garretson, who lives more than a mile from the railroad. "I wish somebody would do something about it."

The city council is scheduled to receive a report Tuesday on railroad quiet zones that could restrict when engineers can blow whistles. Council members will have the option of directing staff to prepare an ordinance adopting quiet zones.

"Quiet zones prevent the engineer from blowing whistles at all times," said John Kaminski, the city's director of Development Services. "But I believe there is an exception that does allow engineers to use the whistle in an emergency situation."

The staff prepared a report on quiet zones about four years ago. Kaminski said the report at the 5 p.m. meeting at 107 W. Juan Linn St. will update that information.

For instance, he said, the Kansas City Southern rail line between Victoria and Rosenberg was not in use five years ago. It has prompted complaints from residents living near the tracks about the train whistles.

Tuesday's report will include information on what it takes to implement quiet zones and preliminary cost estimates.

"It depends on the intersection, but for most intersections it's fairly expensive," Kaminski said. "The most efficient way is to put gates on both sides of the tracks that come down from both sides of the streets to keep cars from driving around."

A less expensive version would be to install medians to prevent drivers from going around the crossing gates, he said. But the medians may not work at every crossing, he said.

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