A quiet zone will also be instituted along Cloverbank Road, following the installation of mounted medians.
The installation of mounted medians at Rogers Road has been completed, allowing a quiet zone to be instituted in that area.
HAMBURG — The town of Hamburg’s contractor recently completed construction of the pavement improvements and traffic separator systems, which are mountable medians with reflective channelization devices, along the highway approaches to the railroad crossings on Rogers Road and Cloverbank Road. These measures will provide the supplemental safety measures that are necessary for railroad quiet zones to be established along the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroad tracks in the area of these crossings.
As a follow-up to this work, the town issued Notices of Quiet Zone Establishment on June 2, for the creation of the railroad quiet zones at these crossings. These notices are required to be sent to the Federal Railroad Administration, the two railroad companies that operate in those areas and the New York State Department of Transportation, after the installations have been completed.
The quiet zones have been a long time coming, for the residents of those areas. In 2005, when new regulations issued by the Federal Railroad Administration went into effect, requiring that railroads blow their train horns louder and longer at surface grade crossings, residents in the area of the Rogers Road and Cloverbank Road crossings were disturbed by the increased train horn noise and contacted Kathy Hochul, who was a Hamburg Town Board member at that time. She requested the engineering department look into if anything could be done to alleviate this situation. The town decided to investigate the issue, for those residents.
In discussing this with FRA, that governing body informed the town that the regulations allow for railroad quiet zones to be created through the installation of supplemental safety measures, such as the traffic separator systems that the town has installed.
This is considered to compensate for the increased risk associated with the horns not sounding by having a barrier along the center line of the highway approaches to the crossings, which serves to prevent drivers from attempting to go around a lowered crossing gate to try to beat a train. The town then sought federal and state funding assistance for the project. In 2009, the town received $475,000 in federal funding, as well as $50,000 in state funding for this purpose.
Following the completion of design this past summer, bids for the construction of the project were opened on Sept. 25. The contract was awarded by the town board to Louis Del Prince & Sons Inc. in a total bid amount of $176,202, on Sept. 26. The required contract documents were submitted by the contractor, the contract was signed and a notice to proceed was issued by the town on Oct. 11, authorizing the contractor to start construction.
In compliance with required NYSDOT construction specifications, the pavement resurfacing work had to be completed by the Oct. 31 NYS DOT seasonal deadline date.
The hired contractor did not meet this deadline, due to delays by CSX in an issuance of a right-of-entry permit to the contractor. This permit is necessary, “because a substantial portion of the work is to be performed within the boundaries of the railroad right-of-way which crosses and overlays the highway right-of-way,” Kapsiak said. “Although the contractor applied for this permit shortly after being awarded the contract, the permit was not received until Nov. 13, which was too late to meet the paving deadline.”
The town proposed to have the contractor install the traffic channelization devices on the existing pavement surface, which would then have to be removed in the spring, to perform pavement resurfacing work after the April 15 allowable date for the resumption of paving. After that, the traffic channelization devices would be reinstalled.
“In that this would involve additional work by the contractor which is beyond the scope of their contract, they notified the town that there would be increased costs, which would need to be covered by a charge order to the contract,” Kapsiak said. On Nov. 12, the DOT informed the town that the estimated $10,000 excess costs were determined as ineligible for reimbursement under the federal funding for the project.
Since the town did not have those additional funds, Kapsiak said that option was dropped from consideration.
A power-out indicator was also required to be in place at each crossing, for the creation of a quiet zone. This device makes approaching train crews aware, in the event of a power failure at the crossing, which would thereby cause the flashing lights and gates to be inoperable. The train crew would then need to blow the horn, to alert motorists of the approaching train.
In February, CSX sent the town a construction agreement, to enable CSX to install the power-off indicator lights at those crossings. An advance payment of $16,630, to cover the estimated costs for the work, was sent to that company by the town, to be reimbursed in full by the federal transportation funding received for the endeavor.
Now that those indicators and the separator systems are in place, the town is able to institute the quiet zone. Now that a letter has been sent to the appropriate parties, a minimum 21-day period is necessary before the quiet zones are able to officially be put into effect and train horns are no longer allowed to be sounded, except in situations where a possible danger is observed by the train crew. Based on this time frame, the quiet zones at these crossings will take effect starting on June 24.
The full package that was sent, including the attachments referenced in the letters, as well as other project documents, are available in the town documents section of the Hamburg website at www.townofhamburgny.com/Important_Town_Documents-117736.html.