IOWA--Train Horns Set for May After Delaygreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
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Train horns set for May 1
Richard Lewis Staff Writer
AMES--The long-running saga of Ames acquiring train horns for its downtown area could be chugging to an end.
After months of delays due to freezing weather, negotiations and manufacturing defects, the automated train horns should be installed at the three downtown crossings Duff, Kellogg and Clark avenues by May 1, said Kurt Anderson, director of the automated horn system division at Railroad Controls Limited, the horns manufacturer.
The question now, however, is whether they are needed at all. Thats because the Federal Railroad Administration remains unconvinced that the stationary horns mounted at the tracks and which blare when a train approaches a crossing but are quieter than train whistles will be an effective deterrent to cars or people crossing the tracks. To date, the FRA considers raised medians at crossings, surveillance equipment and gates, among other devices, as adequate supplemental safety measures, but not the horns.
The city of Ames has protested the railroad authoritys exclusion of the train horns, arguing that tests and a study by the Iowa Department of Transportation found the instruments to be effective at curbing crossings and to be popular with citizens and train engineers alike.
The inclusion of the wayside automated horns would both benefit communities and achieve the safety levels that are being sought at crossings, the Jan. 25 letter, from Ames Mayor Ted Tedesco, stated.
Ames already plans to add at least one of the other safety features at its six crossings along the Union Pacific Railroads main east-west line, said Scott Logan, Ames traffic engineer. While the downtown intersections have either raised medians (Clark, Kellogg) or surveillance cameras (Duff), the Hazel, North Dakota and Scholl crossings will get raised medians by this fall, Logan said. The medians prevent drivers from maneuvering around the crossing arms, Logan said.
The horns, at about $22,000 apiece, will be an added weapon, Logan said, to keep train engineers from blowing their whistles when traveling through the city.
The east-west line carries up to 65 trains daily, a number that will increase in coming years, according to UP representatives. The citys north-south spur, which averages about four trains daily, will not get horns.
Union Pacific refused to approve the horns because they at times failed to detect slow-moving trains, Anderson said, sending the horns creators back to the drawing board for six months to create a better model. The new version picks up all trains, including those that simultaneously pass through a crossing. The devices emits an orange 1 1/2 foot-by-1/2 foot X-shaped symbol to alert engineers the system is functioning properly, Anderson said. The blinking, white strobe lights no longer will be used, he added.
The horns will be tested for about one month in Richardson, Texas. Assuming they pan out, six will be shipped to Ames, three of which will be free-of-charge replacements, Anderson said.
Four other towns in the U.S. have the automated horns. They are Gering, Neb., Parsons, Kan., Marysville, Kan. and Wichita, Kan.
-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), March 17, 2000