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Train whistle cessation meeting in the works

carstairs-news

CARSTAIRS - Town council has instructed administration to meet with CP Rail officials to discuss the possible cessation of train whistles in town.

The move came during the recent regularly scheduled council meeting, where councillors accepted an updated version of an assessment report into the matter.

At the instruction of council, administration prepared the 98-page Town of Carstairs Whistles Cessation Assessment report regarding public crossings at Gough Road and at Centre Street.

The report was originally presented to council in November and then forwarded to the legislative and emergency services committee for consideration. 

The committee reviewed the report in December and forwarded it back to council for the Jan. 10 council meeting. 

“The committee has reviewed the report and recommended back to council that we proceed with the implementation of the report,” said Carl McDonnell, the town's chief administrative officer. “Administratively now what we will do is talk with CP Rail and put together some cost estimates and timing. 

“Some of the stuff is pretty straight forward like markings on the roadway and signage saying railway tracks, but one of the larger expenses is talking about removing the third track. If we move the third track, on Centre Street, the traffic signal and arm that is there now would have to be moved to the west so it’s closer to the second track.” 

That project would require new pavement and adjustments of the gradient, he said.

“Those are some of the things we would have to discuss with CP Rail and find out what the cost would be to remove that portion of the track as well as moving the signal,” he said.

Following the talks with CP, cost estimates would be brought back to council, he said.

Canadian Rail Operating Run 14 (L) requires each train to signal its approach to each crossing with a high decibel whistle or horn sounded repeatedly for one quarter mile in advance of each road crossing. 

“Although much of the closest development in this area is commercial, there is an impacted residential area immediately south of the southernmost crossing and throughout a major portion of the downtown area and noise complaints have been raised,” the report states.

In preparation of the assessment report, a professional engineer with HDR and the CP manager of public works for the western region visited the crossings last September and another professional engineer visited the sites later that same month.

The two crossings are themselves quite different: the Centre Street crossing is a three-track crossing on a two-lane paved road and experiences less traffic than Gough Road, which is a single-track crossing in close proximity to a road intersection with Highway 2A.

“For a municipality to achieve whistle cessation, the area in question must meet the requirements stated in Section 104 of the Grade Crossing Regulations and Grade Crossing Standards,” the report states.

“In the case where the crossing do not meet these requirements, upgrades must be completed before the resolution is passed and whistling can be stopped.”

Information that would assist parties in making a decision to remove train whistling would include local use of wheelchairs or other assisted devices over the crossing, guide fencing to prevent/reduce incidents of trespassing, copy of bylaw documents that support whistle cessation, when applicable, and proof that relevant associations or organizations in the town have been notified, the report states.

The report makes a number of recommendations for the Town of Carstairs to consider for implementation prior to cessation of train whistling, including reducing the road and sidewalk gradients on the west side road approaches, and painting double bar stop lines and X markings in advance of crossings.

It also recommends the construction of fencing along the western railway right of way boundary along parking areas north and south of Westview Co-op's  grocery store to prevent trespassers from crossing.

A date for the meeting with CP officials has not been set.

“Normally it takes quite a while to get with CP,” McDonnell said. “We anticipate it would be several months before we would get a decision from CP on whether or not that track could come out. Their operations staff would have to review it and so on.”

The complete 98-page assessment report is available for viewing at the town office.