orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

February 2, 2013

Railroad crossing closures to begin this week

Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — Five railroad crossing will be closed in as many weeks as part of two work projects in the City of Orange.

Jim Wolf, Public Works Director for the City of Orange, announced several Union Pacific Railroad crossings in Orange will be closed over the next five weeks as part of two separate projects.

The first project is to create a “quiet zone” which prohibits trains from sounding horns in certain areas, typically residential, while the other project will see the construction of two new railroad crossings at Interstate 10 and 16th Street.

Wolf said the first railroad crossing to be closed permanently is at Elm Street. Other crossings will be closed at a rate of one per week pending weather conditions and other factors.

“When they close these crossings, it will be permanent,” Wolf said. “Crews will remove the pavement at each of those crossings to keep cars from being able to travel these areas.”

Along with the closure of the railroad crossing at Elm Street, other crossings to be closed include Pine Street, Cypress Street, Orange Street and John Street.

The closing of these five railroad crossings is part of the city’s project to create a “quiet zone” for trains which travel the Union Pacific Railroad. Wolf said the city will making improvements to the remaining seven open crossings following the closures.

“We’re hoping to get this area deemed as a ‘quiet zone,’ but before we can create a ‘quiet zone’ we have to meet some federal standards,” Wolf continued. “Some of these improvements include things such as adding wayside horns and delineators to keep vehicles from going around the crossing gates.”

Wolf said by closing the crossings at Elm and Cypress Streets ahead of the project, both of which lack crossing gates and lights, the city will recapture approximately $300,000. These funds, in turn, will be utilized in the creation of the “quiet zone.”

“We will have to spend this money to create the ‘quiet zone,’” Wolf explained. “We’ll be using these funds to put wayside horns at the crossings at Green Avenue and Cordrey. Each wayside horn costs about $125,000.”

Wayside horns are horns that are used in place of, and sometimes in addition to, train horns at railroad crossings. These horns are typically mounted on poles and directed toward the vehicles on the road. This is done so trains do not need to use their horns at the crossing.

A sixth closure is schedule for Barkins Street, which is located behind Jack in the Box on 16th Street, but Wolf said that will be “two or three years down the road.”

“The crossing at Barkins cannot be closed until the two new crossings at the Interstate open,” Wolfe added.

Motorists who use these crossings will need time to find alternate become accustomed to alternate travel routes, but it will be a slow and steady process as the project progresses.

“It will probably take all year before we are able to complete the ‘quiet zone’ project,” Wolf said. “We started talking about this project about two years ago, but it takes time when you are working with the railroad.”