About 50 percent of the City of Kilgore's 'quiet zone' construction has been completed, and the final elements are scheduled for the first weeks of 2018.
If all goes according to plan, the work will be finished in January, and the city will enter a 12-month acclimation period: Union Pacific conductors have up to a year to get used to silencing their horns in downtown Kilgore – except in emergencies.
A year from now, perhaps, downtown Kilgore and surrounding areas will be markedly quieter day and night.
Kilgore City Council members approved the downtown quiet zone in November 14. Affecting three existing intersections and eliminating a fourth, it took three years for the project to reach construction (which began last month) due to a mix of careful planning, red tape, logistical concerns and weather delays.
The plan then, and now, included adding signage and safety measures to the Lantrip Street railroad crossing, Main Street's and the crossing at Southport Road in addition to removing the Danville Street crossing entirely. The latter was already slated for elimination by UP and the City of Kilgore netted a $50,000 credit on the project for acquiescing.
After tackling Southport Road in November, as of this week “We're done with Lantrip,” Kilgore City Manager Josh Selleck said, scheduling construction in low-traffic periods as much as possible. “We a little bit left to tack on to Southport – there was a little bit closer to the track we weren't able to do until we go the Union Pacific flagger.
“The only other improvements that are left to make (other than the signage) are on Main Street.”
A new piece of equipment, a curb roller machine, sped-up work by the city's in-house crews.
“It's allowed us to knock out the project faster than we thought we were going to,” Selleck said. “We thought we were going to be very late on this, but good equipment and great staff have allowed us to get caught back up and now we're going to be pretty close to our timeline.”
Removal of the Danville crossing will be the last piece of the project following improvements to the last of the three remaining intersections.
On Main Street, “The physical improvements will be done hopefully the week after New Year's,” he noted. Danville will follow soon after: “It's a different kind of project – it involves doing things we've never done.
“We've got to pull out one set of rail also. That's still requiring some fine tuning.”