Quiet Zone

Adding 11 Railroad Quiet Zones to town is expected provide a more peaceful urban setting for residents.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s infrastructure track work is underway. The concrete work is the first of two components in the works for the Quiet Zone project, said Larry Stevens, city manager.

(CORRECTION: We inadvertently gave Elizabeth Waner the title mayor in this story and should have called her former mayor. We regret this error and any inconvenience it may have caused.)

“Some concrete crossing work has been installed on both First Street and Fifth Street intersections,” Stevens told the Edmond City Council this week.

Trains will not be required to sound their horns in city limits once the Quiet Zone is implemented.

The 15th Street BNSF intersection was closed starting last week for a 10-day period to allow concrete work at that intersection. BNSF anticipates doing more concrete work in August.

“The railroad is designing railroad signals, and they expect those signal materials for all the crossings to be here in late November,” Stevens continued.

The second component of the project is the design and construction work by the city on all 11 streets crossing the BNSF tracks, Stevens said. City engineers are now reviewing design plans submitted by Freese and Nichols, Inc. More design plans are due by Aug. 8 and Oct. 11.

In February Burlington Northern Santa Fe estimated the project’s cost at $3.5 million. Funding the project will come entirely from the 2000 Capital Improvements Sales Tax, Stevens said.

Edmond residents will be getting what many have requested with the implementation of 11 railroad Quiet Zones throughout the city. On Monday the Edmond City Council voted 4-0 to fund a $3.5 million appropriation after receiving cost estimates from Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) in February.

“$2.9 million of that would be in this current budget year with $600,000 in the next budget year,” said Larry Stevens, city manager.  

Initial cost estimates neared $30 million, which was problematic for the city, Stevens said. However, homeowners and prospective developers and builders downtown cited the project as a quality of life issue and continued to urge the city move forward with the project.

“This has been a long project, and I think the price has come out extremely well for us in the long-run,” former mayor Elizabeth Waner said.

Meetings were held by the city, its consultant, and BNSF which resulted in more realistic cost projections, Stevens said, adding that all of those costs are the city’s responsibility.

Improving the BNSF signal system costs nearly $2.65 million. Each of the 11 crossings requires a separate contract.

“The second item tonight is a design contract with CTC for the actual construction improvements for each crossing beyond what the railroad is going to do,” Stevens said. “And that basically is in the city right-of way. It’s roughly $216,000 for the design.”

Stevens said the $600,000 in next year’s budget will fund construction improvements at each crossing that are within the city’s right-of-way.

The Capital Improvements Projects Board recommended approval of the project which is funded by the 2000 Capital Improvements Sales Tax.

The signal work will be done by BNSF, according to the engineering department; however, this schedule is completely up to BNSF as they will be doing the work. 

“It may take longer … the 9-12 months was their estimate,” the engineering department states.

Meanwhile, the city’s portion of street work crossing the tracks is estimated to take six to eight months. The city will bid and award the project following the design work. City officials said it’s still too early to estimate the contract length for this work.

“It is a very significant step forward in our efforts towards downtown redevelopment,” Stevens noted. “It’s a significant piece of the city’s commitment to fund downtown infrastructure improvements from a public/private partnership.”

Mixed-use developments are included in other projects the city is focusing on to enhance downtown, Stevens said. This will include multifamily housing, too.