Victoria City Council to consider railroad quiet zones

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Sept. 30, 2012 at 4:30 a.m.
Updated Oct. 1, 2012 at 5:01 a.m.

Victoria's railroad quiet zone project is inching toward completion.

The City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on a $187,000 contract to improve the intersections at Ben Wilson Street and Delmar Drive.

Deputy Director of Public Works Jimmy Roach said the improvements are necessary to meet quiet zone requirements.

"It's very expensive to install the railroad equipment and it's not only the railroad equipment but some road reconfiguration to ensure that motorists don't circumvent the barriers," Roach said.

Construction is anticipated to be complete by January and the quiet zone should be established by February or March.

Mayor Will Armstrong said the project will be seen as a solution to the noise problem railroads create.

"I wish we could install quiet zones everywhere. Unfortunately, they're very expensive and there are so many places where the railroad track is so close to the highway or street that it's not practical to do," he said. "It depends on a lot of factors having to do with investments and the city being able to take tax money and apply it to this problem."

The scope of work for this project is broken down into three parts to be completed by Brannan Paving Co., of Victoria.

The first phrase is to install a top-set curb median section about 100 feet on both sides of the railroad. The second step calls for removing a section of rail and the third part will be to add new signs and markings on Ben Wilson Street and Delmar Drive.

Armstrong said railroad traffic has increased over the years largely because of high diesel prices and growth in the petrochemical plants and energy sector.

The owner of The Remington, a $30 million apartment complex investment on Houston Highway, approached the city about the issue earlier this year, offering to fund $25,000 of the project.

"It's a win-win for him and us," Armstrong said. "We get to put a gigantic project on the tax rolls and at the same time, he's paying a fraction of the cost."

Once the project is complete, the city will send the Notice to Establish a Quiet Zone to the Federal Railroad Administration, Union Pacific, users of the rail and Texas Department of Transportation, according to information from the city.

"It's a nuisance we share with every other city in the world that has a railroad track running through it and we have two," Armstrong said.



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