Downtown Kilgore’s new quiet zone is officially in effect with this week’s unveiling of new signage at three railroad crossings.
That doesn’t mean an immediate end to the blasts from the tracks: conductors will be getting used to the new restriction in the next several weeks.
And, of course, “As an emergency needs it, they’re still going to blow their horns,” assistant city engineer Mat Kronner said Monday.
Warning drivers that passing trains will not be sounding their horns, the new signs at the Main Street, Lantrip Street and Southport Road crossings were covered with plastic until this week.
City crews installed the signage along with other safety improvements after the quiet zone construction began in November. The project, approved by council members in November 2014, also included the removal of the Danville Street crossing (which netted a $50,000 credit from Union Pacific Railroad).
The railroad has since signed off on all the quiet zone preparations (most of the work completed in-house by city employees) and gave the go-ahead to silence the locomotives. It’s not an immediate change, though, Kronner said: there’s an additional month-long window for UP employees to get accustomed to it.
“It might take them 30 days to get up to speed,” he noted. Conductors will received notifications about the new zone when they collect their daily paperwork on routes that pass through Kilgore. Meanwhile, there’s already been on impact, an initial reduction in train horns: “It’s supposed to be in effect now, but it still might be 30 days before they stop blowing on a normal basis.”
The upgraded crossings are meant to ensure drivers and pedestrians don’t attempt to cross the tracks as a train approaches and passes. If someone disregards the signage, warning signals and other obstacles, conductors won’t hesitate to blow a train’s horn to clear the tracks.
– By JAMES DRAPER