Amy Cunningham
Construction on the Main Street and Moonlight Road intersection is complete and the city of Gardner has filed for permits with BNSF railroad and the Federal Railroad Association to turn the crossing into a quiet zone, but that isn’t the only crossing the city hopes will go silent.
City officials have identified two additional crossings they hope to make silent in the future, if the council can find the funds to complete the project.
City Engineer Celia Duran said that her department has placed the crossings at Grand Street and at South Poplar Street on their Capital Improvement Plan.
However she said that changing a crossing into a quiet crossing takes time and a financial commitment to bring to fruition.
“We’ve identified the projects, that doesn’t mean the council is going to approve them. It’s a matter of the council saying we have the funds,” Duran said of the hold-up. “We’re hoping in the next year or two.”
For those projects to be completed, the city estimates taxpayers will have to pony up $1.5 million.
“It’s going to cost some money,” Duran said of the Grand Street and Poplar Street projects. “Olathe spent $5 million for their quiet zones, but since we planned ahead (on the Moonlight project) we didn’t spend that much. When we planned the project we designed the median and did all the improvements there (the railroad requires).”
Duran expects to receive approval on the request to go silent at Moonlight and U.S. 56 Highway from BNSF and the FRA by the end of the summer, possibly by the end of the month.
The Moonlight project, because it was completed as part of the intersection expansion at Main Street and Moonlight Road, wasn’t as costly as starting from scratch.
Construction on the project began in April of 2009 and it was designed with a silent crossing in mind; total cost for the intersection upgrade, including the specific requirements for creating a silent crossing, over $13.5 million.
New railroad crossing planking and warning devices were installed to satisfy the requirements for the intersection.