Salem discusses railroad crossing quiet zone facts and figures


salem-silver-lake-crossings-smallerOne of the more persistent issues that has faced the Salem Town Board over the years is how to silence train horns through the town.

While there’s been a lot of discussion, reliable facts were not always available.

But the town now has a study that supplies some hard numbers — including cost — to upgrade the 14 crossings in Salem and Silver Lake to a standard that could allow the Salem to establish a zone where trains passing through would not have to blow their horns while approaching crossings.

A draft of the study was presented and discussed by the Salem Town Board at a committee of the whole meeting on Monday. The study was done by R.A. Smith National.

Town administrator Patrick Casey said the study says the best way to be sure of establishing a qualified quiet zone would be to add supplemental safety measures to all crossings within the study area. All of the public crossings already have gates, lights and constant warning time train detection.

The two most feasible supplemental safety measures are non-traversable median channelization and four-quadrant gate systems. Channelization is the preferred and less expensive option, but some of the roads in the study are are not wide enough and therefore four-gates would have to be used. Both of these systems seek to prevent motorists from driving around down gates.

The study says adding supplemental safety measures to all of the Salem crossings would cost $2 million and all of the Silver Lake crossings $1.3 million.

There would be two ways to pay for the improvements, borrowing money and then having all property taxpayers pay it back or a special assessment targeting properties most impacted by train horns, Casey said.

Establishing a special assessment area of all properties within .25 mile of the Canadian National railroad line would cost 941 Salem parcels owners $2,125 each. The same zone in Silver Lake would cost 681 parcel owners $1,909 each.

After some discussion about what would be the best way to fund such a project, Supervisor Dan Campion suggested holding a public meeting to gauge public interest in pursuing the project. A consensus around that idea developed.

Casey suggested that the meeting be held after June and that it be publicized generally and with a specific letter to property owners close to the tracks. He suggested modeling it on meetings held recently in the town by American Transmission Co. as they were seeking to gain support for a new high voltage transmission line through the town. Those meetings figured large maps and illustrations of the route and people to answer questions.

Here is a copy of the draft study.



  1. do all 45 pages open for you? says:

    I get the first 12 to open, not the balance; Trying again.

  2. do all 45 pages open for you? says:

    SLOW to load, but it is all there…
    The map of importance, to see if your parcel will be affected is clearly displayed.

    Should go to a referendum.. Too much money to be forced on a small segment of the townspeople.

    If if it goes thru, and if there is a special assessment, it should be for a long while, 10+ years of assessment because not everyone has $2000 to drop
    really, should it be an assessment on only some of the town/some of the village?
    It is roadway issue because the RR forces it to be a roadway issue – town and county – and we ALL pay for roads, not only a few people who live on specific roads.

    It isnt much different than the stormwater utility. There are many people/parcels who retain all water falling from the sky on their own properties, yet they pay the fee for the benefit of others….
    Nor is it much different than the sewer utility.
    Some people generate more waste water than others. a 5 person home generates less than a one person home, yet they both pay the same amount.

    One section of the town is still THE TOWN. All for one, One for all….

    What is important is should the horns be silenced? WHich came first? The trains or the home owners? Which is safer? The mechanicals suggested or a horn on a train? Why isnt the horn AT THE CROSSING rather than on the locomotive for all to hear? It is afterall, at the crossing that the accident is likely… not 1/2 mile away…? ANd what of safety if the gates both directions are down and there is NO train. … and no option for crossing? And what of pedestrians, including kids, who will attempt to walk/climb around any impediment?

    How many complaints are on record, officially? Or is this a complaint of a few sufficient to spend thousands?

  3. Matt says:

    To spend money like that to protect stupid people is ludacris! I’ve lived in Silver Lake and Salem my entire life, and I have yet to witness a gate system fail as a train was going through. I’ve seen them go down when no train was around, but common sense and laws already on the books should tell you NOT to go around downed gates. Maybe they should restrict what times the train can blow their horns (I can understand blowing the horns an hour before and an hour after school), but this 3am constant blowing needs to stop!

  4. memory says:

    There are those of us who remember

    Perhaps in addition to all the mechanicals we should start with education.

    Salem, Trevor, Riverview could all push a program – getting the kids involved with poster making and a regular ongoing safety program of
    STOP, LOOK and LISTEN as well as STOP and LOOK BOTH WAYS.

    We are a community of rails. We need to recognize that else, mechanicals will not be sufficient.

    There needs to be a respect for a machine that moves quickly, has only one track to operate on, has brakes that take 1/4 mile to complete and does not go off track chasing cars or people to HIT them. Basically, anyone hit by a train was not paying attention or had no respect for BIG, FAST and SURE.

    One should never play chicken with a train.

  5. Train Lover says:

    You people are correct. Education is the key to safety. One problem. Walker has Riverview so screwed up that I am sure they can get the message to the children.

  6. Remember in Trevor? says:

    Not everybody but a lot of people remember the girl that got hit by a train in Trevor when “SHE BLEW THE STOP SIGN !!”

    Sure it was at the railroad track but a stop sign is a stop sign. They were there for decades and decades and it wasn’t till she got hit that lights had to go up at every single crossing.

    Now people are stupider and stupider and we’ve got to spend more money to save them from themselves.

    And I agree everybody in town should pay not just the people who lived by the tracks. I’m clear in “Downtown Salem” and I can here the train horns.

  7. Kids. Trains. says:

    Some will remember too a child, crossing at a bad location – steep grade approach to the tracks out of Camp Lake Oaks. Many pass the one-time crossing that has been closed since that time. There are barriers on both sides to show that the road is closed. For the family, the barriers are the reminder. Still, in terms of safety, what is the dollar figure that car companies use to protect people vs the bottom line? Is a person worth 2 million dollars? Actually, is it worth 3.3 million? We must use the combined figure in this study because without Silver Lake, Salem cannot accomplish this. I am not certain that the engineers are blowing the horns only accordance with the federal rules either. They are given the leeway of blowing not less than Federal laws but also greater if they feel there is justification. All of us have heard some trains blowing their horns all thru Silver Lake and all the way thru Salem. When it happens at 3 in the morning, I confess, it is an irritation. I am all for the auto industry making a horn sound inside the car – stopped only with braking – and louder sounds at the crossing.Bells are very inadequate. I am not in favor of a train itself being the source of the main notification to the crossing and the world around the moving train. I also believe that the horn placed at a lower spot on the train would direct the sound closer to the ground and the intended crossing, that to the entire area. Over 3 million, whew!

  8. michael says:

    Silver Lake currently has three warning systems in place,gates,lights and bells.we do not need 110 decibel train horns blaring 24 hours a day.(Try sleeping with your windows open on a warm summer night.)Lowers property values and quality of life.Simple fix but to cheap to spend the money.

  9. Don Hanson says:

    I grew up in Camp Lake and have seen more train vs vehicle accidents than I care to remember, but what happened to Darawinism. Seems to me that if we keep putting more and more warnings on everything people will continue to get dumber. I read something recently that said the average IQ has gotten lower in the USA over the pass decade. Now I am all for Night time quite zones as a teen I remember a few times where it seemed the engineer of the train feel a sleep on the horn from Hwy C till he crossed AH in camplake at 3am but I also remember more than 3 accidents during my teen years where in that same area people was killed in that area. It all comes to personal responsibility for ones own actions. Those trains don’t sneek up on you they are quite noisey machines. So unless you are walking around with earbuds in blasting you will hear them and maybe even feel them getting closer to you if you are standing near the tracks. Make night time quite zones through Trevor, Camp Lake, and Siver Lake, from 10 pm till 6 am. Then it is Illegal for people to walk on railroad property make the railroad fence in their property. Remember it takes train up to a mile to stop.

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