WPB To Call On State to Pay For Railroad Quiet Zones
November 6, 2013
(West Palm Beach, FL) – Next week, the message from the City of West Palm Beach to Tallahassee could be: You need to pick up the tab for railroad crossing quiet zones.
On Monday, the West Palm Beach City Commission will consider a resolution calling on the State to pay to upgrade its railroad crossings in order to cut down on the increased noise expected when All Aboard Florida’s passenger rail service begins.
The city continues to support the All Aboard Florida project, and looks forward to the benefits having a station in the city will bring.
A “quiet zone” railroad crossing is a crossing that doesn’t require an oncoming train to blow its horn as it approaches. By prohibiting the train from blowing its horn, it avoids disturbing residents who live near crossings.
In order for a crossing to qualify as a quiet zone, it requires additional safety equipment such as additional gates. But those additional gates come with a hefty price tag.
Quiet zones have become a hot topic as plans to create a new passenger rail service continue to move ahead. The cost to install the additional safety equipment at the city’s 39 crossings is estimated to be almost $5 million dollars.
That’s $5 million dollars the city does not have.
“We, as municipalities can’t afford it,” West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio said during her weekly media briefing.
“Its a concern for every neighborhood…wherever there is a crossing,” added Muoio.
All Aboard Florida, the future passenger rail line providing service between Miami and Orlando with a stop in West Palm Beach, will dramatically increase the amount of traffic along the FEC tracks that run through many city neighborhoods.
Right now, every time a train passes though one of the crossings, it blows its horn to warn drivers and pedestrians. Today, the only trains running through the neighborhoods are occasional freight trains. But with the addition of All Aboard Florida’s service, the number of trains will significantly rise.
According to the resolution, “quiet zones are needed at all affected municipal railroad crossings in order to mitigate the impacts of increased railroad traffic and railroad noise and to protect the health, safety and welfare of the City’s residents and visitors.”
Thousands of people either live or work near crossings that would see an increase in daily noise if quiet zones are not installed.
If approved, the city will send a copy of the resolution to Governor Rick Scott as well as the head of the Florida Department of Transportation.