DANVILLE — Two studies through the Danville Area Transportation Study right now are focusing on railroad crossings and the noise from trains.
Next week, city council members will consider approving an engineering agreement for safety evaluation and funding identification for possible improvements for various at-grade railroad crossings. DATS selected Hanson Professional Services of Springfield to perform the study at a cost of $22,178.
On Thursday, the DATS Policy Committee approved conducting a quiet zone feasibility study. The cost is estimated at $40,000, utilizing planning fund dollars DATS receives. DATS director Jaclyn Marganski said she’ll send out a request for proposals as soon as possible.
The quiet zone feasibility study will assess mainline railroads through Catlin and Danville for the feasibility of creating continuous or discrete railroad quiet zones. The study could run from January to June 2014.
Study goals include: mitigation techniques to minimize the number and severity of accidents within the DATS area and mitigate the negative effects of traffic, such as cut-through traffic and excessive noise, on residential neighborhoods.
The study will try to address perceived noise problems and look at general costs for a solution, such as installing gates at crossings to prevent vehicles from going around them.
Marganski said the study will gather traffic and train volumes and determine “do we have a problem and do we need to do something?” She said the study will determine if full or partial quiet zones are feasible.
Marganski said the federal government allows local governments to establish quiet zones. Quiet zones remove the requirement for train operators to routinely sound their horn at all train crossings. The sounding of train horns at crossings is regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
According to the FRA, new federal rules were adopted in 2005, mandating a consistent pattern and decibel level of horn sounding at public at-grade crossings. The federal rules now require that all trains sound horns between 96 and 110 decibels at all public crossings. Train horn use is now more consistent than prior to 2005, which results in an increase in horn noise over the previous discretionary horn sounding condition.