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Train horns may be quieted in 2007

The 60-day public comment period for a proposed railroad quiet zone in Hamburg has expired and none of the comments pose serious obstacles, according to Gerard M. Kapsiak, town engineer.

Kapsiak said Thursday that town officials remain hopeful that the quiet zone can be established in 2007.

The Federal Railroad Administration allows communities to prohibit trains from sounding their horns at crossings except in emergencies if adequate safety measures can be installed.

Brian D. White, assistant county attorney, said in an e-mail, "My preference is to not allow quiet zones to be established on county roads."

However, he added that he realizes many residents and town officials want them and that it appears adequate safety measures can be installed.

"Therefore, I have no objection to the establishment of a quiet zone in Hamburg" if all regulations are complied with and the county is not liable for any damages, White said.

The two major rail lines, CSX and Norfolk Southern, did not raise any significant issues, other than saying there should be separate zones for each railroad.

The state Department of Transportation also did not raise any major objections.

All the points made in the letters "have been addressed or can be addressed," Kapsiak said of the 2 1/2 -year effort to establish a quiet zone.

The plan, estimated to cost about $100,000, calls for installation of medians running for 100 feet down the center of the road on each side of the crossing, making it difficult for motorists to drive around the lowered crossing gates.

The area around Lake Avenue in Blasdell might have to be excluded from the zone because of the number of driveways near the crossing that would be affected by a median.

Medians would be installed at the crossings on Bayview, Rogers, Cloverbank and Lakeview roads. They would not be required on Pleasant Avenue and North Creek Road.

The town has received a $25,000 state grant, and a proposed $80,000 federal grant is awaiting Senate approval after having been approved by the House.

More than 70 trains a day pass through the town and an estimated 20,000 residents are affected by the noise.


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