LaGrange to study potential silent railroad crossings

Published 10:00 am Thursday, April 13, 2023

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The City of LaGrange will pay for a study by CSX to determine how much it would cost to convert railroad crossings around downtown to silent crossings. The council voted to approve the study Tuesday night.

A request to have to study conducted was made by local business owner and redeveloper, Phillip Abbott.

Abbott said he is working on redevelopment efforts in downtown and surrounding communities, but one of the issues that have come up is noise pollution is a concern.

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“The biggest noise pollution we have in the downtown in my opinion and others are the railroad crossings when they blare the horns,” Abbott said.

The horns can be heard throughout the downtown area, even in the downtown hotel, where guests will complain about the horns blaring, he said.

Abbott said aside from the noise annoyance, it also hinders their efforts to get state funding and grant funding because of decibel requirements.

“So as long as they’re blaring those horns anywhere near the neighborhoods that we’re trying to develop, then we wouldn’t qualify for those funds,” Abbott said. “I think in the interest of redeveloping and continuing to add to those communities and downtown I think we need to look at what we can do to eliminate those [loud] crossings.”

Abbott suggested that the city request CSX to conduct a study to determine how much it would cost to convert the downtown railroad crossings into silent crossings.

The crossbars at the current crossings allow drivers to go around them, and the trains blow their horns out of safety concerns. The silent crossings are modified so people can’t just go through them and have sensors and other safety precautions to keep them safe.

The silent crossings have additional costs, which is why all crossings are not made that way.

Abbott said that once the city knows the cost is known, the cityit could potentially qualify for grants to modify the crossings.

Abbott suggested modifying the Mulberry Street Crossing, the Wild Leap Crossing, and the Depot Street Crossing.

The study to determine how much the silent crossings will cost is about $6,000. Having the study conducted will not force the city into upgrading the crossings, but Abbott said it would allow for potential grant funds to do the upgrades.