It was described as a “benchmark” moment in the history of the city of Aledo.
“It’s improved the quality of life while greatly improving public safety,” said the Mayor of Aledo, Kit Marshall, of the newly established “quiet zone.”
On April 20, the mayor and a group of dignitaries, which included representatives of Union Pacific, celebrated the accomplishment.
“Today is what I call a benchmark in the city of Aledo’s history,” Marshall said. “A lot of great things have happened over the years but this quiet zone...well it has been 10 years in the making.”
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She said the outcome was something totally different than what she had originally envisioned.
“I am so excited that we have this model and not what we originally started out with,” Marshall said.
In 2005, the city was considering the purchase of 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 will tell you there’s perfect timing for everything we do,” Marshall said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that this a result of perfect timing.”
As Marshall began to conclude with her remarks a train passed by, and though still a little noisy, the mayor kept talking with good clarity.
“There was a time where you could not hear my voice,” she said with a smile on her face. “It’s great to hear from our residents and businesses about the positive impact this has already had in a few short days.”
Members of Union Pacific Railroad, along with the Federal Railroad Administration, came to inspect the crossings and railings needed to approve a quiet zone.
On April 7, the city met its obligation for the establishment of a quiet zone along the railroad passing through the town of more than 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.
At the conclusion of the 21-day grace period, signs were put in place to alert motorists that the area has become a quiet zone and that horns will only sound in the event of an emergency.
Marshall stressed that the city was only eligible to become a quiet zone because of the separation of the roads in the affected area (grade separation) and the special crossing arms not allowing motorists to go around them. It was these additions to public safety that made the city eligible for the special recognition.
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.