It’s about to get a lot more quiet around the city of Aledo
Members of Union Pacific Railroad, along with the Federal Railroad Administration, came to inspect the crossings and railings needed to approve a quiet zone. City officials turned out to celebrate a milestone that has been 10 years in the making.
On April 7, 21 days from March 18, the city will have met its obligation for the establishment of a quiet zone along the railroad passing through the town of almost 3,000.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, in a quiet zone, railroads have been directed to “cease” the routine sounding of their horns when approaching public road-rail grade crossings. Train horns may still be used in emergency situations or to comply with other Federal regulations or railroad operating rules.
Jerry Martin, with the Federal Railroad Administration, congratulated the city saying, “You guys have done it right.”
“So many times cities do the minimum they have to do to qualify,” Martin said. “But the city of Aledo; you all have made the traffic move a lot better, the crossings are safer - it’s just an all-around win.”
Marshall praised the efforts of her council and Rick Campbell CTC, Inc., consultants for the project.
At the conclusion of the 21-day grace period, signs will alert motorists that the area has become a quiet zone.
“Motorists on the roadway will see yellow signage with black lettering saying that ‘no locomotive horns will sound,’” Campbell said. “Train crews will have similar signage alerting engineers that the area has been made a quiet zone, but it may take them a week or so to remember the change.”
Marshall recalled in 2005,when she was on the council, discussion on the project began.
“I remember traveling to Irving to see of this relatively new ‘quiet zone’ concept at their ribbon cutting,” Marshall said. “I remember thinking, ‘This is Aledo - not Irving, how can this ever happen?’”
So, after a little research, she discovered two ways to establish a quiet zone.
The first was by purchasing a Wayside Horn, which is a horn focused at the tracks, separate from the train and not as loud.
“It was a good concept,” Marshall said. “So I began raising funds for the Wayside Horn, a horn that was going to cost about $50,000.”
She said after the transportation bond passed, however, the city began looking at the plans. It became apparent that the roadway was going to be altered and so was the quiet zone.
“We backed off the Wayside Horns, and what little money that was raised was returned to the citizens that contributed,” Marshall added.
As the plans for the transportation project began to gel, the city revisited the quiet zone criteria.
Because of the addition of a second railroad crossing at Aledo Trail, the crossings were able to qualify for a quiet zone without the city having to purchase the Wayside Horns. Railroad fencing and sidewalks have added public safety to the equation for pedestrian traffic and community events.
“I’m glad the timing allowed us to go with this; it’s just so exciting, and I say that as someone who has gotten caught on the railroad tracks,” Marshall said. “It was my first year as mayor...I saw my life flash before my eyes.”
She said a car, heading southbound making a left-hand turn, was in front of a Suburban in front of her. The way the roadway was configured at the time, it did not allow her to see the vehicle in front of the Suburban until she had already committed herself, making it too late to turn around or back up.
“So I was on the track and a train was coming; I was scared. Luckily, traffic moved and I was able to get out of the way in time,” Marshall added. “Safety at the railroad track is huge for me.”
Lance Winter, 817-594-9902, Ext. 102
Busy train tracks
It is estimated that between 19-32 trains pass through the city of Aledo in a 24-hour period. Mayor Kit Marshall believes that the establishment of a quiet zone will add to the quality of life both for residents and businesses.