Area August 12, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES II • Page 9 Pursuit of railroad quiet zones derailed by cost by Jennifer Crusco The pursuit of railroad quiet zones in the Borough of Ho-Ho-Kus has been derailed by expense. In late 2007, the council heard a presentation on quiet zones, which are sections of rail line with at least one public crossing where train operators are not permitted to sound their whistles. Councilwoman Maryellen Lennon recently asked for an update on the subject. Ho-Ho-Kus Borough Administrator Don Cirulli advised Lennon that municipal officials had met with neighboring Ridgewood on this matter, but it was considered too expensive to pursue. Ridgewood’s consent would have been required for any improvements made at its border. “It is costly, and it’s a misnomer to call it a quiet zone. It’s a quieter zone,” Council President John Mongelli commented. “…and yes, it was extremely expensive.” Cirulli learned about railroad quiet zones in Ridgewood, and set up the presentation in Ho-Ho-Kus to inform the council about the program, which would have affected residents near the Ho-Ho-Kus crossings at Hollywood and Brookside. S. Maurice Rached, a licensed professional engineer and principal of Maser Consulting, made the presentation. Asked about the costs involved in establishing a quiet zone, the engineer said the project would consist of two phases: Rached would prepare a report at a cost of $4,000 to $6,000, after which time he would recommend safety precautions, which could cost $20,000 to $100,000 depending on the nature of the installation. Rached said installation of a wayside horn costs $100,000, while the installation of a median would cost approximately $20,000. As of June 24, 2005, the Federal Railroad Administration mandated the use of horns at every public crossing. However, Rached explained that quiet zones could be established if alternative or supplemental safety measures are implemented to improve safety, thereby compensating for the lack of a warning whistle to alert motorists of oncoming trains. Rached stressed that the safety enhancements that precede the establishment of the quiet zone ensure that overall safety increases. He said a quiet zone can be established by conducting a review with the New Jersey Department of Transportation and other agencies, determining what improvements are necessary, updating the National Federal Railroad Administration inventory, submitting a notice of intent, finalizing the design and implementing the improvements, and submitting a notice to the FRA. The train companies would have to be notified of the new quiet zone so train operators would not sound their horns except in the case of an imminent emergency. Rached explained that the engineering improvements known as supplemental safety measures include a oneway street with full closure gates, median barriers used in tandem with two-quadrant gates, a permanent crossing closure or temporary closure during the night, a four quadrant and gate system, and a wayside horn. The wayside horn, he explained, is a stationary substitute for the train whistle. When a wayside horn is used, the noise footprint is reduced, and fewer residents are subjected to the highest decibel level being emitted. The wayside horn is still audible, but the intensity of the horn would not become amplified as the train reaches the crossing, eliminating the Doppler effect of a train whistle. 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