Silent Crossings — Council wise not to dilute bond’s impact
July 11, 2013 11:32 PM | 2187 views | 6 6 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Train whistles have been synonymous with downtown Marietta since the city’s founding as the Western & Atlantic Railroad was built in the 1830s. But there’s been a push in recent years to create “silent railroad crossings” at most of the places at which the city’s streets intersect with the tracks.

If the city ever chooses to go the “silent crossings” route, trains would be directed to stop routinely blowing their horns as they approached the crossings. They could still blow them in emergencies, such as when the engineer spots an obstacle (such as a vehicle) on a crossing up ahead.

The crossing gates and signals themselves would be rebuilt as well.

The Marietta Vision 20/20 Committee wants silent crossings in place at five of the city’s seven crossings: Whitlock Avenue, Mill Street, Polk Street, Kennesaw Avenue and Waverly Way. The crossings at West Atlanta Street and Marble Mill Road would be unaffected.

Silent crossings would improve quality of life downtown without eroding safety considerations, according to committee member (and large downtown property owner) James Eubanks.

“You are not going to stop a bozo who parks a car on the tracks, and you’re not going to stop someone who’s trying to commit suicide, but statistically for normal traffic they are safe,” he said.

Mayor Steve Tumlin publicly climbed aboard the silent crossings train this week. He hoped to devote $3.4 million of the proposed $68 million Franklin Road redevelopment bond to create the silent crossings.

But that effort ended after City Attorney Doug Haynie pointed out at Wednesday’s council meeting that none of the city’s crossings are in designated urban redevelopment areas. That would have meant reworking the redevelopment plan and bond documents involved; and rather than add another hoop to the bond referendum process, the council chose to let the matter drop for now.

That’s just as well. Better that the council keep the bond’s focus on Franklin instead of diluting its impact with unrelated projects around town.

As for silent crossings, the Vision 20/20 Committee still has work ahead of it persuading the public that it’s the way to go — and explaining to city taxpayers at large (as opposed to those along the rail corridor) why they should help pay for it.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
unaverage bozo
July 15, 2013
Being an unaverage bozo, I will listen for the train and plan my trip across the tracks accordingly. When I hear a train horn in the distance, I know to head toward one of the crossings where I can go under the tracks. If I do not hear a train horn in the distance, I know I can head toward a crossing where the road crosses the tracks.

I hear trains can talk and tell me where they are. Perhaps the train will talk loudly instead of blowing its horn? If so, that would be fine as long as I can still have advance warning of an approaching train and plan my route based on the train coming.

July 13, 2013
I grew up not that far from a train track and to this day the sound of a train chug-a-chug and whistle could put me to sleep in my worst case of insomnia. That sound is from my childhood and somehow still makes me feel secure to this day. I had to laugh years ago when Vinings was being bombarded with Northern transplants that wanted to silence the train in Vinings. The train track was there long, long, long before they were. I think these people would outlaw crickets chirping if they could--another one of my childhood security blankets while sleeping with the windows wide open in a ranch house, narry a thought about crime. Those were the days. Yes, those were the days.
July 12, 2013
The mayor went off the tracks by jumping on the silent crossings train at the last minute (puns intended). Keep the focus on Franklin - just one new corporate highrise sets success in motion.
July 12, 2013
...The crossing gates and signals themselves would be rebuilt as well...

WHY? Two gates and a timing circuit is all that is needed. Part of the great American railroads rob citizens so they can run GPS crew-less trains WE get robbed for on the liability insurance after the horns are quieted. Head of railroad signal union to congress

...The only modification required is the installation of two additionalgate mechanisms and a timing device that would allow vehicles to exit the crossing before lowering the gates across the traffic exit lanes....

(3) The State and FHWA shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity to inspect materials recovered by the railroad prior to disposal by sale or scrap. This requirement will be satisfied by the railroad giving written notice, or oral notice with prompt written confirmation, to the State of the time and place where the materials will be available for inspection. The giving of notice is the responsibility of the railroad, and it may be held accountable for full value of materials disposed of without notice.

July 12, 2013
I love it when people buy next to a railroad or an airport and then bitch about the noise and want tax money spent to ensure their peace and quite.

If you make the decision to live in area like this then deal with it or move.

End of discussion!!!!
July 12, 2013
Why do we want Savannah River Site's nuclear waste passing silently through our city? Why do we want the explosive results of fracking in our downtown? Considering what trains carry these days, the next crash will do FAR more than burn down the chair factory. We are talking about downtown Marietta potentially becoming an uninhabitable SuperFund Site when (not if, but WHEN) another train crashes in Marietta.

Why oh why would we want to spend millions of dollars on new crossing arms when we could build new RR tracks in Polk County to become a "Train 285" where trains could honk all day and only the cows would notice, and when one crashes, only the cows will be burned to a crisp?

*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides