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Railroad quiet zone project update

The town of Hamburg is working toward the establishment of a 4.3-mile-long railroad quiet zone along the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroad tracks within the town.

The highway grade crossings included within the length of this quiet zone are located on Rogers Road and Cloverbank Road. Hamburg has received $475,000 in federal highway funding and $50,000 in state funding, for this project.

To establish the quiet zone, supplemental safety measures are necessary to be installed in compliance with requirements of the Federal Railroad Administration, according to Town Engineer Gerard Kapsiak P.E.

The current project involves the installation of traffic channelization devices directly on the pavement surface along the center line of Rogers Road and Cloverbank Road, extending 100 feet from each crossing gate arm. In addition, pavement resurfacing work will be performed along the length of the project, prior to the installation of the channelization devices, to improve the condition of the roadway and stability of the shoulders in the project area.

Following the completion of this project, trains will be prohibited from using their horns within the quiet zone, except in emergency situations.

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 the New York State Department of Transportation construction specifications that are required to be followed for this project, the pavement resurfacing work was necessary 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.”

In a stated effort of getting the quiet zone in place this fall, the town has proposed to have the contractor install the traffic channelization devices on the existing pavement surface. The contractor would then need to temporarily remove them, next spring, to perform the pavement resurfacing work after the April 15 NYS DOT 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 such costs (estimated to be around $10,000) were determined as not being eligible for reimbursement under the federal funding for this project, in that the Federal Highway Administration will allow only payment for undertaking the installation once.

The town does not have funds available to pay for the additional work as a local cost, so Kapsiak said that it became necessary to drop this alternative from further consideration.

A power-out indicator is 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.

“The town has recently been informed that CSX does not have power out indicators at the Rogers Road and Cloverbank Road crossings, even though CSX had previously told us that such equipment was in place,” Kapsiak said. “CSX has informed us that they are currently in the process of looking into undertaking these installations.

“It is expected that they will soon be providing a plan and schedule for such to the town,” he added. “Although the town has made every effort to keep this project moving along and bring it to fruition, the above and other previously encountered factors have been beyond our control.”

Kapsiak said that “we regret that this has unfortunately resulted in construction not being able to be performed this fall as previously intended. Now that the contractor has the necessary railroad permits in place, they will be able to proceed with the pavement resurfacing in the spring.”

The contractor has recently received delivery of the traffic channelization devices, which will be installed, following the completion of the paving work. Hamburg will then be required to send written notice about the establishment of the quiet zone to the railroads, the NYS DOT and the Federal Railroad Administration. A 21-day period is then required, following this notice, before the quiet zone is able to be officially put into effect and train horns will no longer be sounded at the Rogers Road and Cloverbank Road crossings.

Kapsiak said that, based on the construction contract amount for this project, “It is expected that there will be a substantial amount of funds remaining from the federal funding that has been appropriated to the town. We are planning to utilize the remaining funds for establishing additional quiet zones at other grade crossing locations within the town, such as Pleasant Avenue, Lakeview Road and Bayview Road.”

In that Pleasant Avenue and Lakeview Road are Erie County highways, town representatives have met with the county and have discussed the possibility of undertaking installations at these locations.

Copies of the contract plans, specifications and final design report for the current project are available in the town documents section of the town of Hamburg website, which can be accessed at www.townofhamburgny.com/Important_Town_Documents-117736.html.
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