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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Branchburg, N.J., quiet zone could go ahead

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Township Committee has tentatively offered to foot part of the cost of creating a quiet zone at the Lehigh Road railway crossing in Branchburg, N.J., if homeowners put up $30,000 of the cost of equipment, local media report. The total cost of the improvements needed to silence train horns as they cross Lehigh Road is $36,000, according to Township Administrator Gregory Bonin.

Earlier this year, township officials wrote a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration and the New Jersey Department of Transportation, and informed the railroads of the intent to establish a quiet zone at the crossing. According to Bonin, the township's assistant administrator and purchasing agent met with these entities to get quotes on the prices.

A quiet zone is a crossing in which trains are under no obligation to sound their horns. Instead, the railroad company installs extra safety improvements to mitigate any danger caused by silencing the horns. These improvements are based on criteria such as the frequency of cars passing over the tracks. In Branchburg's case, the improvement needed is the power-out indicator that lets the train crew know if the gates and bells at the crossing are not working.

Home Owners for Reducing Noise (HORN), the group behind the quiet zone push, had previously offered to pay for the indicator. Bonin reported at Monday's Township Committee meeting that the price was $30,000. Other costs are for engineering and consulting, road striping, signage and a temporary increased police presence to educate drivers about the quiet zone.

Committeeman Thomas Young said that if the residents pay that $30,000, the township should pick up the rest of the cost.

HORN will be having conversations with the township to decide how it wants to go from here.

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