Why do “quiet crossings” cost so much?
Train horns are required by federal law as a safety measure. Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists may not be aware of oncoming train without them. Quiet crossings exchange other safety measures for the simple, but loud, sounding of a horn.
Many Texas communities began along the rail line. As a result, trains come through the center of many Texas towns, including Denton. Communities can ask railroad operators for quiet crossings, but as federal law reads now, the cost of those improvements belongs to them, not the railroad.
On its website, Union Pacific says communities must pay the cost of “preliminary engineering, construction, maintenance and replacement of active warning devices or their components, including wayside horn systems installed at crossings to meet quiet zone standards.” In addition to asking communities to pay a deposit for certain changes, the company also requires reimbursement of actual costs associated with both the installation and maintenance of the new equipment.
To help communities plan, Union Pacific offers these estimates on its website:
Four-quadrant gate system — $300,000 to $500,000
Basic active warning system (flashing lights and gates, constant warning time, power out indicator, cabin) — $185,000 to $400,000
Basic interconnect — $5,000 to $15,000
Annual maintenance — $4,000 to $10,000
In 2014, Denton voters approved not quite $1 million for quiet crossings. Four downtown crossings are being redesigned for the improvements.
United Pacific has 16 crossings in Denton; Kansas City Southern has nine. All of DCTA’s nine crossings for the A-train in Denton are quiet crossings.
Source: Union Pacific