Andover Quiet Zone Recertification

Development Type: N/A
Services Provided: Railroad Crossing Quiet Zone Affirmation
Client: City of Andover

Many agencies have gone through the process of establishing Quiet Zones at their railroad crossings. This can be a difficult process involving lots of time and money depending upon the exact circumstances. Once installed, there is usually tremendous benefits to the surrounding residents who sleep better without constant train horns. But once the Quiet Zone is established, that’s not the end of the process for an agency.

Per the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Guidelines, Use of Locomotive Horns at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings; Final Rule (49 CFR Parts 222 and 229), each public authority must submit periodic updates for their quiet zones. Every 4-1/2 to 5 years from the date of the Notice of Quiet Zone Establishment or the last affirmation, the following steps must be taken:

1. Affirm in writing the Supplemental Safety Measures (SSMs) implemented within the quiet zone continue to conform to the requirements.
2. Submit a current and accurate Grade Crossing Inventory Form.

Once prepared, this information must be sent to a host of people from the railroads operating over the crossing and the agency having jurisdiction over vehicular traffic (including law enforcement) to the state agency and FRA personnel responsible for safety. The goal, of course, is to make sure everyone associated with the Quiet Zone crossing has the latest information.

The City of Andover asked for our assistance in completing their affirmation earlier this year. The scope of this project was relatively straight-forward with the following tasks:

+ A site visit to assess the crossings, noting improvements, signs, and other features of each crossing.
+ A comparison of the constructed improvements against the planned SSMs, which should match.
+ An update of the grade crossing inventory, including traffic counts and notes from the site visit
+ A cover letter and documentation affirming the crossing continues to conform to the requirements.

Luckily, we happen to have a friend at the FRA who offered to review the affirmation package before submittal (although I’m sure they would be happy to do this for anyone). As the railroad rules and guidelines can be tricky, it’s always nice to have this type of review. In this case, they confirmed we had all the necessary components and could proceed with the submittal. With only one operating railroad, this submittal was limited to 12 people. The affirmation package is currently being reviewed by the FRA.

So remember, just getting the quiet zone implemented isn’t the end. Instead, expect a friendly reminder from the FRA every few years to keep monitoring conditions at each crossing. We hope to be able to help Andover in five years when the process repeats itself.