Hamburg overcame a big hurdle toward getting more “quiet zones” at railroad crossings Monday night when Town Board members agreed to take over parts of two Erie County roads.
“I think the county handling of this matter has been shameful,” Supervisor Steven J. Walters said, adding that the county was holding residents living near the railroad crossings “hostage.”
The board agreed to take over about 0.53 miles of Pleasant Avenue between Lake Shore and Versailles roads, and about 1.59 miles of Lakeview Road, between Old Lakeshore and Versailles roads. The quiet zones are to be erected at the railroad crossings on those roads, and on the town-owned Bayview Road.
“This is not how you conduct yourself as a government,” Walters said of the county. “This is a quality-of-life issue for our residents.”
Walters said he was reluctantly voting for the agreement to take over the roads, and he faulted the county for not moving in negotiations with the town after the town proved the quiet zones on Rogers and Cloverbank roads survived the winter snow.
Quiet zones are crossings where trains do not blow their horns because channeling devices keep cars from driving around lowered gates.
“They are ridiculously loud,” Jim Morgan, who lives near the Bayview Road crossing, said of the train horns.
At one point, the county, which does not want the quiet zones on roads it owns, wanted the town to take over more than nine miles of road. Walters negotiated that down to a little more than two miles. “It shouldn’t have come to this,” he said.
But Board Members Michael P. Quinn Jr. and Cheryl Potter-Juda praised Walters for negotiating with the county. Walters said he attended 20 to 30 meetings with county officials. Quinn took over negotiations about two months ago and met once with county representatives.
“I think negotiations have gone well,” Quinn said. “We’ve come to the point where we have to get this done for our residents.” He also told Walters that he did a “great job” negotiating.
“You can only go so far,” Morgan said. “You can’t continue this year after year.”
The quiet zones are still being designed, and the plans must be approved by several agencies.