By Rita Cook / The Ellis County Press
WILMER – At the last Wilmer City Council meeting the government body said “no” to a quiet zone study that could have meant a quiet zone in the city at the four local railroad crossings.
And no matter how much a resident might sigh when they hear that shrill train whistle, it is also a sound that according to past studies, really does save lives.
The council saw that too and Wilmer City Manager Denny Wheat said council decided that safety was more important than establishing a quiet zone.
“Council decided rather for safety” Wheat explained.
The train whistle quiet zone study agenda item associated with the Wilmer railroad crossings has been on the last three agendas including a public hearing held on Oct. 19. Last week’s decision by council to say no will put the item to rest.
Union Pacific Railroad has a main line track running through the city near residential neighborhoods. Train engineers are required to sound their horns at least 15 seconds and no more than 20 seconds in advance at all public grade crossings. This must be repeated or prolonged until the lead locomotive or lead cab car occupies the grade crossing.
The train horn rule does allow cities to mitigate the effects of train horn noise by establishing quiet zones. This zone would mean the train would not be able to sound its horn at the crossing.
If the city had opted to consider quieting the train horn, then it would have been responsible for working with UPRR and TxDOT on assessing the risk of collision at each of the city’s four at-grade crossings, which are Lavender, Belt Line, Adams and Walnut.
The study would have been required to produce other safety engineering improvements that would have been necessary to reduce the risk associated with silencing the horns.
Wheat said all other items did pass on the City Council agenda last Thursday with the Quiet Zone study being the lone item that was not approved.