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posted: 2/6/2013 8:59 PM

Cost of silencing train horns in Batavia may be $3 million

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  • Batavia officials are discussing ways to silence train horns as they pass through town on this spur line on the east side.

      Batavia officials are discussing ways to silence train horns as they pass through town on this spur line on the east side.
    Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer


Silencing trains' horns as they pass through town remains an expensive proposition, the Batavia city services committee learned Tuesday night.

According to engineering consultant Jim Bibby, it would cost at least $3 million to install four-arm gates at eight crossings on the east side, on a spur of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Line used to deliver freight to businesses.

And, Bibby said, there's no federal money available for the gates, and only a possibility of getting some state money if the work is deemed safety-related.

The line crosses a private road at Amcor, off Route 25; Bond Drive; Laurel, Adams, Van Buren, Webster, Prairie and Wilson streets; and Raddant Road. The Federal Railway Administration reports there are four trains per day.

In 2005, federal authorities required trains to sound their horns when approaching unprotected crossings. Quiet zones can be established if four-arm gates are installed, if 100-foot medians or bollards are installed at two-arm gate crossings, if wayside horns are installed or if crossings are closed.

Medians would hurt businesses at Wilson and Prairie, including a strip mall on one corner and a garage on another. People wouldn't be able to turn in, as the driveways would have to be closed.

"East Wilson and Prairie is an extremely complicated crossing," Bibby said.

Residents' complaints were first investigated in 2009 when they said the noise seemed to have increased. It was discovered a train engineer had not been following the new rules until then.

Resident Duke Wahl, of the 800 block of Manchester Avenue, said it is unlikely the state would pay. There have been six accidents the last 36 years and in five of them a vehicle hit a train. No one was injured.

"You won't have anything to base it (asking the state for cash) on because nobody's been getting killed in this town at the crossings," Wahl said.

Joseph Messerklinger, of the 200 block of Laurel, said "the simple solution to the whole thing is right here," then waved earplugs. "They work in the house and outside the house."

Several others at the meeting said the earplugs don't work. Two said they may move because of the noise. Several also complained that late at night, a train stops behind a store at Prairie and Wilson, and idles for at least 20 minutes while the engineer goes into the store. City officials promised to speak to BNSF officials about the practice.

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