San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

San Marcos railroad crossings included the “quiet zone” circled in purple. CLICK MAP TO ENLARGE

San Marcos railroad crossings included the “quiet zone” circled in purple. CLICK MAP TO ENLARGE


Seven years after the city council first dedicated capital improvement funds for the effort, the railroad quiet zone project could be completed within a year, said Janae Ryan, the city engineer overseeing the project.

Ryan said a written agreement between Union Pacific Rail Road, which owns the tracks, and the city will be on the council’s agenda on either June 4 or June 18.

Once the contract is finalized, the quiet zone — which would silence freight train horns at more than two dozen crossings — can be implemented as quickly as Union Pacific installs “quad gates” at the Patton Street crossing, one of only a few at-grade crossings in the city not already equipped with advanced warning circuitry required for the quiet zone. Union Pacific officials have told Ryan they can complete installation of the gates within six months of a finalized agreement but Ryan said she’s allowing for at least a year based on the city’s previous history with the railroad on crossing maintenance.

An earlier plan called for closing about a block of Eisenhower Street and adding raised medians to Patton but was scuttled when Victory Gardens neighborhood residents protested the street’s closure.

Instead, the council told staff to work with Union Pacific to install “quad gates” at the Patton crossing, which added about $325,000 to initial costs plus a estimated $142,800 in yearly maintenance fees over the next decade (assuming Union Pacific does not increase the fee it charges as they are allowed to do under the draft contract). The cost of upgrading other intersections — mostly signs and medians — range from $500 to $40,000 per crossing, compared to $616,000 for the Patton crossing.

Even with the additional expenses added by the Patton changes, the project is estimated to currently estimated to cost $1,194,471, within the $1.3 million budgeted over the years for the quiet zones. Under then-Mayor Susan Narvaiz, the city council appropriated $600,000 for quiet zones in 2008 and additional funding was added in subsequent years.

At one point, city staff under a different city manager estimated the project to cost about $4.5 million. By that measure, the quiet zones are being implemented at about a quarter of the original estimate.

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One thought on “City nearing agreement with UP on railroad quiet zones

  1. Can we spell F-R-A-U-D and T-H-E-F-T???

    Quad signals Head of railroad signal union to congress
    …The only modification required is the installation of two additionalgate mechanisms and a timing device that would allow vehicles to exit the crossing before lowering the gates across the traffic exit lanes….
    (3) The State and FHWA shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity to inspect materials recovered by the railroad prior to disposal by sale or scrap. This requirement will be satisfied by the railroad giving written notice, or oral notice with prompt written confirmation, to the State of the time and place where the materials will be available for inspection. The giving of notice is the responsibility of the railroad, and it may be held accountable for full value of materials disposed of without notice.

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