Another issue that is being debated by the City Council and Urban Renewal Agency is the instigation of quiet zones at specified railroad crossing here in Canby. A quiet zone is defined as railroad grade crossing at which trains are prohibited from sounding their horns so that the noise level is reduced as trains move through a community. Under the city’s plan, according to the Canby Herald, quiet zone crossings would be installed at Elm, Grant, and Ivy.
I have several issues and concerns with instituting such a policy. First of all, in my tenure as city council, only once has someone come before the city council to complain about the noise pollution of the railroad.
Secondly, I put the ultimate judge of safety in the hands of Union Pacific Railroad, who owns the lands our trains operate on through town. In their opinion, Union Pacific believes “quiet zones compromise the safety of railroad employees, customers, and the general public.” The Federal Railroad Administration rule states that communities that wish to implement such a program must equip proposed crossings with adequate safety measures to overcome the decrease in safety created by silencing the train horns. Why should we install anything that from the onset produces a decrease in safety?
Furthermore, city staff concur that the money allotted for this program was a “place holder” in the budget, in case we get to a point where we can move forward with it. When we take a closer look at the up front costs, as well as the maintenance, it gets expensive.
- $500,00 for new gate systems
- $400,000 for active warning system
- $15,000 for Basic Inter-Connect
- $10,000 for annual maintenance
The city would be responsible for covering 100% of these costs. Again, according to the Federal Railroad Administration, evidence has shown an increase in accidents when horns are not used.In my honest and best judgment, I cannot endorse moving forward with the quiet zone plan. Our city’s budget is tight. I see this as an overextension of our Urban Renewal funds. I want to see safety as the prime reason for keeping the current system we have in place.